Leigh Ann Came in Like a Tornado
Ten years ago, I met a brassy blond girl at a ballpark. She had a crass mouth and a nasty smoking habit. She was loud and obnoxious. A person people moved away from when they saw her. She did not dress the part, talk the part, and certainly did not behave the part of what society deems “normal.”
Yet, I was drawn to her. I saw myself in her—the girl that no one wanted to be friends with, the outcast. I have a deep love for those who seem unlovable. I see through the facade of what someone presents. I see their heart—that deep desire to fit in, yet the complete inability to do so.
Seeing a Bit of Jesus in Her
In my mind, I can close my eyes and see all the bright dots of Jesus throughout her. I just knew when those dots connected; she would be an unstoppable force of nature for the Kingdom.
I fell in love with this girl, her children, her brother, and her parents. We were a tight-knit group of misfits. I was blessed to be able to lead her to Christ one spring day. After she accepted Christ, I gave her a hot pink Bible. It was her favorite color. She loved Jesus with all her heart.
She also struggled with mental illness. Despite her love for Jesus, she had good days and bad days. What bonded us was that I, too, suffer from mental illness. I have clinical depression. She had onset bipolar disorder.
One thing I want you all to hear is that you can still love Jesus without abandon and still struggle with different types of mental illness. That does not mean you love Him less than someone who does not struggle.
How Did She Change My World?
She taught me how to accept those who were not “normal.” Also, she taught me to walk towards the waves instead of away from them. Live life without fear of abandonment and to hell what people thought of you.
Did I change her world? I hope I did. She made me a better person, and I hope I had some effect on her. Her mom always said that I did. I sure do love her children and now grandchildren. We were good for each other, for the most part.
Does it Change the World to Stand in the Gap?
Yes, it does the world when you brush and braid a friend’s hair for the last time? Also, when you begin painting her nails and toenails her favorite color? Does it change the world to wipe the ants off of her body while you are bathing her? What about closing her eyes for the last time?
Yes, it does change the world. It changed for Leigh Ann’s children, her mother, and her brother. It also changed me. It showed me what the phrase “be Jesus with skin on” really means. Sacrificial love and service for her and her family.
Leigh Ann, you are loved, thought of, and missed daily.