I hate the phrase “Everything happens for a reason.”
I’m letting go of that explanation and replacing it with “Everything Happens.”
“In This Life Everything Happens.”
Sure, the plot points are different. The storylines change. There are different leading characters.
But we all have pain, don’t we?
Sadness and loss and failure and struggle and tragedy.
Pain is universal and, at some point or another, it happens to all of us.
But I’m done believing the universal pain of life is inflicted like a lightning bolt from God for a ‘reason’ and God is somehow teaching me a lesson.
Because believing I’m meant to learn some great lesson from God in the middle of tragedy leaves me terrified…
It leaves me imagining I can somehow prevent tragedy by being good.
Maybe if I’m just GOOD enough. If I pray hard enough and long enough and with exactly the right words. If I do all the right things. Donate more money. Or volunteer more. Act the right way. Behave. Show up at church. Send my kids to Catholic school. Maybe if I do this life perfectly…
Maybe if I can be GOOD ENOUGH I can convince God I don’t have any lessons to learn and somehow I can prevent tragedy from striking.
But that means I live my whole life in fear.
Always looking over my shoulder. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Watching for a lightning bolt from the sky.
Because the problem is…I’m human.
I mess up every single day. I am imperfect. I sin. I am a sinner.
If God is in the business of handing out lessons by zapping tragedy into the lives of those who really need it…then I’m in for it for sure.
But I simply cannot imagine God PLANS life’s unimaginable, unthinkable, unspeakable pain to ‘teach a lesson’ to His children.
Can that really be???
Somehow I don’t think God operates that way…
Plans the molestation of a little girl by her male relative.
Chooses the loss of a child to cancer or stillbirth or a horrible accident.
Inflicts adultery or addiction or chronic illness or suicide.
Delivers loss of a job or financial ruin.
Forces death of a spouse or parent or destruction of family relationships.
Commands tornados or wild fires or hurricanes or earthquakes.
Dispenses terroristic acts or gun violence.
That’s not the God I’ve come to know.
He’s not in the business of ‘teaching lessons’…He’s in the business of LOVE.
The God I know LOVES me.
All of me.
He loves exactly who I am every single day right down to the very last detail.
He loves me even when I struggle and fail.
He loves me even when I’m lost and afraid.
He loves me even when I sin.
He loves me even (especially) in the middle of life’s inevitable pain.
He always, always believes I’m GOOD ENOUGH just as I am.
The God I know takes life’s gut-wrenching pain and uses it to LOVE…
He holds me through it all.
He is what I cling to.
Even when all is lost and I feel completely shattered and broken in the middle of unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable pain…
No great lessons. No molding. No shaping. No grades for performance. No making sure to do better next time. No becoming GOOD ENOUGH.
Sometimes joy seeps in. Sometimes peace. Sometimes community. Sometimes a relationship stronger than before. Sometimes a new path. Sometimes turning over a new leaf. Sometimes a new beginning.
But all of that is only evidence of God’s great love through my pain.
Beauty from ashes.
Even when “In This Life Everything Happens.”
Only God’s great love.
He loves me with a love I can’t possibly understand.
He never for one moment leaves my side.