Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When Faith is Tested

I haven't blogged in awhile, but, lately, I've felt the urge to write and get my feelings on paper.  Since my last post, my family and I had a wonderful summer filled with hikes, trips, and camping.  I didn't run too much because my ankle was bothering me.  I would rest for awhile and then try again and it kept hurting, so I decided to mostly take the summer off.  It honestly wasn't a big deal to me, as I could do almost anything else without pain.  On August 8, I took this picture and posted it on facebook with the caption "bright sunshine behind me - storm brewing ahead of me".  I had no idea how prophetic that caption would turn out to be. 

Without going into detail, something happened in early September that I still can't come to grips with.  People say they feel "kicked in the stomach" when they are surprised with bad news, and that's exactly what I felt. However, I didn't just feel punched in the stomach but so bruised, bloody and beaten that it was/is difficult for me to believe that I could ever heal.  My heart has broken and broken over and over until I wonder if it can recover from being smashed into so many pieces.  I have gone through tough times in the past, and I know that these struggles more often than not lead to strength, perseverance and a certain gratitude for having gone through them because you can see how you and your faith grew once you reach the other side.  And, I just keep praying that I reach that point with this particular event. 

While nobody died or is dying, I am mourning.  I am grieving the loss of dreams, questioning every single decision I've ever made, and -yes - I am questioning God and His promises.    I feel like I am living in two parallel universes.  Since there wasn't a death, there is no real excuse for not continuing in my daily life.  I can't just hide away for awhile until I feel better.  So, in the meantime, I continue to go to work, to carry out my daily activities and to try and maintain an outward "normal", while another me is stuck in darkness and has to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other.  I'm ashamed to say I can't rejoice in the accomplishments of others or share in the happy moments of their lives.  Even as I tell myself that it's wrong, I feel resentful and envious.  As I know in my heart how untrue my feeling is, in my dark moments, I ask God why it seems that some people seemingly never have to endure real pain (like I said, I know it's not true ... everyone has to deal with tribulation at some point). 

I remember reading something and I can't remember where I saw it or who wrote it (I think it was someone with words of comfort for my sister when she was going through the loss of my niece), but it stated something like when we are going through hard times, all we can do is hang onto Jesus and when we can't hang on anymore, he will hold onto us.  I try to keep this as my focus.  I do see little things to remind me that God is still present:  a grove of beautiful aspens changing colors in a mountain canyon; words of comfort spoken in a church sermon which seem directed at me; kind words from people I did not give much thought to in the past but who - as it turns out - know exactly what I'm going through; the immeasurable love and support of my husband; clarity on decisions which I had a tough time making prior to this; and just the little experiences every single day that bring a smile - albeit a small one right now.

Of course, I can't help feeling that this is some kind of painful lesson for me.  I will freely admit I have control issues.  I think I should be able to control every aspect, person and moment in my life.  I have recognized this long ago, and really do make an effort to let go when I need to.  Now, I have no option.  There is nothing I can do except lay everything in God's hands ... EVERYTHING!  While I absolutely hate it, it is also freeing in a way.  There is NOTHING I can do on my own to fix this.  I'm not anxiously wondering if I'm doing the right thing because the situation is out of my hands.  I have to accept it as part of God's plan, continuously pray for his guidance, ask him to give me the right words to say when needed and just trust that it will all work out.   

I realize not many people will read this because 1) - I haven't blogged in awhile and 2) - I'm sure it's difficult to relate to a post if you don't know the specifics of what's going on.  But, it's just something I had to do for me.  Maybe it will be the beginning of more blogging or maybe I just need to write these things down at this time. 

  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).