Part 2

I’d never been so shook.
What followed the next weeks could best be described as a full out adult temper tantrum.

The words were, “stage 4, lung cancer”. I stood with her as the doctor told us with a smile, then shuttled her to sign off on her treatment so he could tell me that I should do what I needed to do since she only had weeks.

My momma. The one who had always been there for me, wasn’t going to be with me much longer and the doctor wasn’t shy about rolling out the upcoming festivities with a smile. Sort of twisted if you ask me. The whole thing was a big twisted joke.

There it was. The fog. Disoriention. Fear. Nausea. Everything went gray as I took the step into that murky, unfamiliar place between life and death.

I felt like I had been diagnosed with her. I cried. Hard. The only way to describe it was like waking up on a completely unfamiliar road, covered with large irregular rocks, in the pitch dark, where I had no bearings. I remember the temper tantrum I had on that road. So real. I demanded that I be put back where I was, the way things were, where I knew how to navigate the road I was on the day before. But day after day I woke up on that dark road. Every day I kicked and screamed. I threw rocks. Like Forrest said, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks”.

I wondered what life was all about. You’re born, you live, you die. What’s the point? What are we doing here? What matters? The stuff people fight hard to keep and do seemed futile when given a terminal sentence. Everything so important suddenly seemed ridiculous and stupid. Nothing made sense anymore.

So I did what’s typical in crisis. I started asking God “why?”. I started asking Him a lot of questions. Those questions came from what my brother called, “a religious nutjob” and better yet a full-time ministry leader. I knew what the right words were, but they weren’t feeling very real and solid.

One thing was for sure. I had no intention of going anywhere until I got answers. So, each day I cried. Each day I demanded answers from God Almighty.

God didn’t take issue with me asking. He didn’t get disgusted or impatient. He didn’t judge my ignorance or strike me down.

He helped me see.

Maybe, I was relentless or maybe pitiful. Whatever…. He helped me see.

What He helped me see is that He mourns with me; with all of us when the most tragic, difficult times happen. He mourns over the disease and pain; the death and heartbreak we feel. Jesus mourned with the people He cared about. He mourned when one of His best friends died. He mourns because these things were never in His original plan. It was never supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be perfect.

Note to Self:
It’s good to know the God of the Universe will stay with me through my tantrums. It’s good to know I’m not alone in mourning. It’s good to know it was never supposed to be like this.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I won’t be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Psalm 23:4

But it also created so many more questions….

What are the questions you ask God?
Share with a comment.



January 27, 2010

Stuck in the middle, between a rock and a hard place, neither here nor there, in no man’s land, on the fence.

There’s something very…wrong…with all things murky or unclear. Muddiness needs clarity. Fuzziness needs tidied. If we can’t make sense of things and give it some sort of order, we feel on edge, a little disoriented, awkward, scared, confused and maybe even a tad nauseated. We’re not settled because it’s just….wrong.

We prefer neat and orderly. Black and white. Certain. Defined.

Taylor came home for Christmas break. Our family couldn’t have been happier. Team Runge was complete again with all five together. His first day home, we woke to “the storm of the century”. The mid-Atlantic was experiencing a beautiful pre-Christmas snowstorm. It couldn’t get any better. A white Christmas. We put on the woolies, packed into the car, had Wonka, our chocolate lab, in tow, laughed while quoting the Griswold’s and headed to track down the perfect tree. Life was perfect.

Jeff, one of Taylor’s high school “posse” friends, raced to his second family when he woke to the snow. He uncovered the sleds for a rare day of snowmobiling through the surrounding farm fields. Two on two loaded up. The snow was deep and it couldn’t have been any better. Four kids cheered as they took off for a great ride. Life was perfect.

We got a call just a few hours later. Jeff was gone.

Visibility was low. He was the second sled so visibility for him was worse. They slowed, but came up over a hill catching, of all things, an Amish buggy. The first sled swerved. Jeff’s didn’t soon enough. His front blade clipped the back wheel catapulting the riders and that was that. A one-inch wheel. He was gone. Just like that.

The next days, we cut paper snowflakes and baked cookies. Jeff’s family had other things to do. Taylor had to figure out what to wear to the funeral. So did all of his friends. We were quiet. I suspect they were too. The funeral was December 23rd. It doesn’t get any worse. Life wasn’t perfect. Not even close.

He was just 20. His parents. And Kelly….his fiance…there are still presents wrapped and waiting. This isn’t okay. It’s wrong. Very, very wrong.

Then, there’s what happened in Haiti. All those people. Americans. Haitians. Babies. The horror is not even over. In some ways it has just begun for so many. It doesn’t get any worse. How can this be?

It’s just not right. It’s not fair. It’s tragic. It’s horrible. It’s painful. How can these things happen? How can life go from being so perfect to so horrible in a matter of hours? From exhilarating to sorrowful? From perfect to devastated?


A fog falls over us. We’re confused and the knot in our stomach tightens. There’s intense pain. We want answers. Explanations. None of it is okay. So, we ask God, Why? Why? If you’re so good…then why?

We go to Him with questions, anger, blame…
We go to Him for answers, peace, and comfort…

Our expectation is that life shouldn’t be this way. Our expectation is that life ought to be full of joy, love, contentment, wholeness, peace to all good will toward men. Really, anything less is unacceptable, right?!

Pain, suffering, disease, destruction, death is all….wrong. We don’t want it. We fight against it. It shouldn’t exist. But it does.

Good and bad, joy and sorrow, light and dark, laughter and tears, ease and struggle, pure and evil. It’s all here.

And it’s muddy.
Life can be good. Life can be bad. We experience both. It’s a blend.
We’re caught in the middle. And it causes tension.

Is it supposed to?

Note to self: We’re living in a sort of limbo. Life is a mix of good and bad. Being caught in the middle will be uncomfortable, even painful, awkward, scary, complicated, confusing and at times leave us nauseated. While here, we’re going to be discontented and unsettled. We’ll experience tension. Life will be good. Will it ever be perfect?

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12

Are you caught in the middle too?
Share by writing a comment.

Coming….LIfe on a Broken Planet: It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This