In an earlier post I talked about the fact that I have been surprised to see which of my "friends" have actually continued to have a part in my life since my "retirement", and which of them have not. I remain puzzled by my respective mental "lists."
One thing I can say is that I have made some wonderful NEW friends on this journey. Two special friends I've made are (to my knowledge, anyway) the only PALS (persons with ALS) besides myself in the US that are also former EMS professionals. Danny and Ken share a special bond with me. They have lived the "brotherhood" that is EMS and the fire service. We share a unique sense of humor (some things that some of you might not find so funny we totally crack up about) and a sense of loss at the passing of our time "in service". Then there is Kent, a PALS who lives here in the Indy area. Kent and I don't share a vocational past in common, but we have become fast-friends, none-the-less.
Part of the common denominator is probably that we are all fairly close in age and have younger kids (elementary/middle-school age) at home. Obviously all of us are LIVING with ALS. And all of us share a faith that there is more to this life than what we can see with our earthly eyes....that God is real and that He cares about us! I can't imagine facing this illness without some Hope that THIS LIFE is NOT all there is!!! I hope that my friends (current and past) can feel my prayers that go up for them. I pray that they can live with the hope and joy that I am finding in abundance through this journey. Funny, huh? You get a terminal illness that eventually will lock you in a non-functioning body with an intact mind and you find JOY and ABUNDANCE?! Wow. Isn't God amazing!?
I simply can't imagine living without the love of God in this world, let alone with this illness. It is all to ugly and too hopeless. But with God comes HOPE and LOVE for all eternity and for all situations. Isn't that cool!?
I have a friend who I love deeply who has struggled with God. He was in a difficult marriage and sought counsel and refuge in the 'church' only to be sorely betrayed by the person who was his 'mentor'....this mentor was not just a fallen human (as we all are) but he was a criminal and was caught molesting a child. With that as the breaking point, my friend decided that God doesn't exist or that at the very least "God isn't for [him]". How sad that makes me. I pray for this friend and his children every day. I now see the battle between God and Satan acted out in this man's soul in a very real way. He is a wonderful, kind, caring man. He gives of himself for others in tangible ways. But he has rejected God because he looked for the good in a person to represent God. It causes me to take pause.
"Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; ninety-nine will read the Christian." Dwight L. Moody.
We don't have to be perfect or sinless, because we will be neither, but we have to LOVE...that's where it all begins and ends because GOD is LOVE. I hope that I have shown LOVE to some of you. I know that many of you are showing LOVE to me. This LOVE is the kind that has TRUE meaning...the kind that isn't seeking anything for self but only seeking to give to the other.. and the irony is that when you give this LOVE you get it back in more abundance than you could ever "demand"! I'm living this right now and I want the world to know that GOD is real, that he DOES love each of us, that this has NOTHING to do with "church" or "religion" but it does have to do with how we will spend eternity. I KNOW that this life, this "world" is not all there is. I've experienced a glimpse of what "heaven" will be like...you and me will be LOVED... totally and completely and UNCONDITIONALLY.
I have another dear friend who lost her 21-year-old daughter on this past Sunday (Easter Sunday!) to complications of a serious chronic illness. Can you imagine the pain of loosing your child? Your precious daughter? I know that I can't. But I do know that in her 21 years she touched more people with God's love than her parents will ever know. She has her "angel wings" now and I can't wait to be with her and the others that I love -- singing with our perfected voices for all eternity. There is HOPE. Hope has a name: Jesus. Love you, Claudia