It has been a little over five months since we came home from the hospital with a new baby boy in tow, and it is incredible just how much healing and restoration has come since then. The complications that followed labor + delivery shook all of us to our core, and many voices were crying out to God on our behalf in those moments of uncertainty. Many are still crying out to Him because of the events that took place in January, and I speak for my little family + myself when I say that prayers of praise have not ceased in light of God's mercy towards us. The joy of the Lord was my strength through it all, and it overwhelms me when I think of how God had every right to take me but didn't. He chose the perfect moment to create me in my mother's womb, and when I take my final breath on earth is His perfect choice, too; yet, He spared my life that day.
The healing process has not been easy; I really can't remember a time I have had to trust God more in my whole life, with both little and big things. My whole body (specifically my legs + feet) was painfully (and quite largely) swollen for five weeks after giving birth which forced me to humbly ask others for help, I experienced firsthand the not-so-pleasant effect of negligence that made me look at forgiveness in a new way, it was weeks before I could hold B for more than ten minutes at a time without needing to rest which made my heart ache something terrible, I learned that people (even those with prestigious titles) brush off way too many things and deem them as unimportant without first taking the time to really listen or investigate the situation at hand which made me want to pay more attention to things around me, I started being more diligent in looking past the smiles that people wear and studying them as more than just a seemingly happy face instead because some people are really good at hiding their sorrow, miracles have been the theme of this season of life which has been a tremendous cause for praise, I've been surrounded by family + friends who have provided a nearly unfathomable amount of love + support which has made me cherish my time with them even more than I did before, I finally started to feel like myself again (physically, that is) about a month ago which reminded me that things do get better, and that's only a glimpse of what recent trials + what I've learned from them. Many trials have come, some more intense than others, but none of them have proved to be stronger than the hope that is in Christ Jesus that I have clung to with everything in me. How beautiful is the hope that makes even the biggest, most terrifying storms unable to hide the sun.
During those weeks of limited movement, I wondered if I would ever get out of the bed without hurting again, much less participate in anything that required physical endurance. When I was in high school + college, my favorite "Anna time" was to put on a pair of sneakers and put them to good use out on the pavement. I would turn my iPod up loud (occasionally forgetting that I was the only one who could hear the music) and just run. It was never for competitive reasons, but I just simply loved challenging myself by seeing how far I could go before I ran out of steam + music. I stopped running after TJ + I got married (mainly because it was more fun to cuddle on the couch with my husband after work than it was to go out and get hot + sweaty), but I recently had a burning desire to start back up again. I knew I wouldn't be impressed with my distances + times because of the four-year hiatus (and that I would be even slower because I'd be pushing a growing baby boy in a stroller in front of me), but the desire to do it was pretty intense. The first time I cried while I was in the hospital was when the doctors told me they were going to remove my catheter, and it was weeks before it took me less than thirty minutes to get up, walk (and by walk, I mean waddle) to the bathroom, use it, and return to my infamous position of laying down with my feet propped up. In those moments of frustration + sorrow, I wondered if I would ever feel + be "normal" again. Those thoughts are what provided me with the initial motivation to begin running again, because it would be a shame if I took for granted all of the prayers that have been answered + all of the goodness of God that has been poured out on me.
Some would give anything to be able to go out for a jog just because they want to, and yet those that are able to spend most of their free time wasting away their minutes. Technology is helpful, fast food is convenient, eating chocolate is satisfying, and taking naps is delightful, but all of these go from good to bad when we allow them to become our masters. Although I was only unable to move for a short time in comparison to many others, God used that time to teach me to be thankful for the abilities I have, to be a good steward of every blessing He gives me, and to spend more time actually living instead of merely thinking about it. There is so much to see, so much to do, countless memories to make, and an open road right in front of us all. What would it look like if we focused more on being thankful for the opportunities that the Lord gives us rather than complaining about the ones He doesn't? Instead of looking back on our lives with regret, why don't we intentionally make decisions that honor God + tell of His goodness towards us. Sure, speed is important in a race, but that speed means nothing if you can't (or worse, refuse to) endure the course. Let's put on our shoes, take a deep breath, run this beautiful race called life, and train our hearts to glorify God in both pleasure AND pain. If we don't, we will wake up one day and wish we had.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."
1 Corinthians 9:24