Many people are posting memories and notes of encouragement and love on Facebook to a dear friend of mine who is dying of cancer. Each and every one of them touch me deeply. Many make me choke up with a strong combination of joy and tears as I identify with their sentiments.
It’s a joyful occasion when a believer in Christ gets to meet Him face to face for eternity in heaven, but it’s sad for those of us who are left behind in the absence of such a wonderful person like Michelle.
I quickly realized a Facebook post just wouldn’t cut it. Michelle Beckman made too much of an impact on my life to be summed up in a few sentences on a Facebook post. So, instead, I decided to write a letter to her, here, on my blog. I hope this letter is an encouragement to you, even if you never knew Michelle, because of the great truths she showed me along the way.
Hi dear friend. It’s been a while. My husband and I (a relationship that wouldn’t exist without you) have been busy building our business. You’ve been busy going through treatment after treatment for your long battle with cancer. Even so, I’ve been on my knees for you and cried alongside you throughout your journey. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable during this long cruel disease – even in your illness and dying you inspire me!
In fact, it was in a dark valley of my own that you ministered to me in an unexpected way. I was under the false impression that Christians do good, are good, and must always seem good. Then you started to teach me how to be a broken messed up Christian in need of a Savior and all the grace He can muster for a beautiful sinner. You showed me that brokenness is not ugly when presented at the feet of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I remember that you even told me at one point that my brokenness was beautiful and, over time, I learned to believe you. Jesus is making me into a butterfly like Stripe and Yellow in Trina Paulus’ Hope for the Flowers.
Michelle, you more than impacted my life, you turned everything I thought was true about Jesus upside down until I could see the transparent grace He extends to each and every one of us more clearly than ever before. You’ve always demonstrated with your life how to be genuinely broken and joyfully forgiven all at the same time. Your encouragement gave me the courage I needed to face myself at my darkest hour and come up from the depths of the pit clothed in the purity of His mercy and love. It gave me the courage to climb down off the tower of co-dependency and seek Jesus through my own individual convictions.
I was a Christian living behind an act that attempted to say to the world, “I have it all together and I have all the answers because I follow Jesus.” This facade was exhausting and tiresome and self-serving – completely the opposite of what Jesus leads us to be. You showed me that not having it all together and being burdened with questions and doubt not only brings us closer to Jesus; this transparency draws others closer to Jesus as well. The genuineness of humbly seeking after Him reaches more lost souls than the confidence of a scholar with all the right answers.
You helped me understand what Stripe meant when he exclaimed –
“We can fly! We can become butterflies! There’s nothing at the top and it doesn’t matter!”
I’ve climbed down from the tower and have never looked back.
You were the one who convinced me to move to Florida when it was the last place I wanted to be. (I still hate Florida, by the way). But I moved here and my life changed forever. I became part of a community that accepted me in my brokenness and walked alongside me to a place of healing. I met my husband and we have a wonderful life together (Florida aside), minister together through our church and our business, and are excited to welcome our first child this coming February.
Without your influence and inspiration in my life, I don’t even want to imagine where I would be or who I would be. I’m glad I don’t have to. Thank you, Michelle, for being you – the understanding, transparent, silly, funny, God-fearing, loving and caring you. I love you!
With joy in my heart and tears in my eyes,
Bethany (Ferdinand) Marinelli