Taking the Long Road to Faith and Love

Apr 04, 2024

According to the experts, most of us don’t think much about our own mortality until we’re in our sixties or seventies. Up until that point, most people feel deep down that they’re going to live forever.

My experience has been very different – and while it’s been a difficult road to tread, I’m grateful for the person I am today.

Let’s start at the beginning.

My name is Rose Muhr, and I was born in Montreal in 1963. I was an only child of parents who had challenges of their own. My mom had undiagnosed mental health issues and was an angry and violent woman when I was a child. It’s a terrible experience to be so afraid of your own parent.

When I was young, we were pretty much ‘Christmas and Easter Christians’, meaning we went to church on high holidays, but we didn’t show up much other than that. Then, when I was a little older, my dad wanted me to get confirmed in the Lutheran Church and encouraged me to attend church regularly to explore my faith. The church I went to had a great youth program, and I began to let my defensive shell about religion down. Even at a young age, I questioned how a loving God could allow a child to grow up in such unhappy circumstances.

Navigating illness and faith

During my school years, my mom had two battles with cancer – and then the third cancer diagnosis was the one that ultimately took her life in 1985. She passed away when I was 21. Looking back, I had a life that looked great on the outside but a real emptiness and void within.

I went on to college and university and immersed myself in playing varsity volleyball. The grueling schedule of practices, games and tournaments kept me busy and distracted from the things that were broken in my life.

After university, I started working in corporate sales. My personality was suited to the work, and I became quite successful at it. Like volleyball, my sales career kept me very busy and kept my mind distracted from the truly important issues in my life – like finding my true purpose and giving my love to people who could love me back.

Perhaps the biggest moment of my life happened in 1997. I was 34 years old, sitting in a church on Sunday morning. The pastor gave a sermon along with his wife about the cancer journey she was on at the time. They spoke with such acceptance, faith, and grace – and something deep inside me just burst open like a dam. I began to sob openly because I finally understood that blaming God for my tribulations wasn’t the answer. It was then that I surrendered to him, and my real life began.

Three years later, I began my own cancer journey with the diagnosis of a rare and aggressive cancer. It was a difficult time for me in every way. A second cancer diagnosis came in 2013 along with the discovery that my mother had a genetic predisposition to cancer, a gene mutation that was passed on to me. My most recent cancer battle was a breast cancer diagnosis that came in 2021, requiring multiple surgeries.

That third round of cancer also tipped my existential scale. I began to question my life. What did I really want? What is my true purpose in life? How can I find joy and peace after a lifetime of loss, loneliness, and setbacks?

Rose at the Grand Canyon.

Rose at the Grand Canyon

Working with greater purpose

It was at this point that World Vision really caught my attention. I had sponsored a couple of children and was so impressed by the way I was kept informed with letters, photos, and updates. I came to really like this organization a lot, and wondered what it would be like to be a part of a faith-based organization that does so much good in the world.

Those questions about World Vision happened at the same time as my realization that the stress of corporate sales was killing me. I knew I had to make a career change if I wanted to live a more balanced and purposeful life.

That’s when I decided to pursue a career with World Vision.

I watched their job postings closely and applied for positions several times. Then, after seven long years, I was hired to work on the Corporate Engagement team. I was thrilled at this new beginning in my life.

I love my job. I love my colleagues. I have so much respect for the people in leadership because they behave in a way that is consistent with their faith. The whole place is open and honest. Everyone is respected and valued. And that kind of character and integrity extends into their work with poor communities in all areas World Vision operates.

My third cancer diagnosis also convinced me to stop delaying making my will. I went to my notary and got it done. With no spouse or children, I had decided long ago that I wanted to leave most of my estate to a good cause – World Vision and their good work with vulnerable children.

Generosity is something that my father has modelled throughout my life. I am thankful for his legacy to me in that regard and in so many other ways as well. Since I put that gift in my will, I’ve felt satisfaction, peace, and love, knowing that my gift will do so much good for people who need help even after I’m gone.

The work and people of World Vision have become a vital part of my life. It’s given me a true purpose in going to work on Monday mornings. I found a community of kind and warm people with whom I feel I truly belong. And I found a place where the people around me love God, love each other, and love the families we help each day.

Today, I’m grateful to have my life. To have my health. To do work that is so important to me. To be surrounded by wonderful people who are so good to me. To feel like I’ve finally found my true home.

I’ve shared my story with you today because I know that you’re a loyal World Vision supporter yourself. I’m hoping that, after hearing my story, you might want to consider making a gift in your will to World Vision. Of course, everyone is an individual and this type of giving isn’t for everyone. But if my story resonates with you, I do hope that you’ll think and pray on it.

Thank you – and bless you