I was driving to meet a friend the other day. I was listening to some music and zoning out, not paying particular attention to the lyrics. I was zoned out up until the point that a particular phrase was sung, that phrase was, “I believe that everything happens for a reason.” Fortunately for you I’m not a video blogger because then you would have to hear me sing it out for you and tortuous is the kindest word to describe my singing abilities.
What I can tell you, however, was I was so impacted by that line that I literally yelled back to my stereo, “NO IT DOESN’T!”
That was a type of rage that I definitely wasn’t expecting. Who yells back to their music? Me, I guess. That’s who.
This singer/songwriter is probably a good person with good intentions and I believe that often that phrase is used as one to give comfort to the difficulties of life or to express a knowledge that we aren’t forgotten human beings here upon the earth, that there is a God, that he is in charge. Even though it seems otherwise by my rage against the machine (yikes, that might be even too cheesy for me …), I hold no malice for those who believe this to be true but I need to explain why that isn’t true for me and what I feel and hear when that phrase is said.
I believe in God.
I believe that he is real, that he is aware of us as his children. I believe God to be a loving Father. I haven’t always believed that to be true. After my abuse I saw God as punishing, vengeful Being that was waiting for me to do the right thing or be the right way before he would help me.
I was wrong, so very wrong.
How I came to see my error will be a topic for another day, today is about reason and what that means for me. When I hear the phrase, “everything happens for a reason,” it leads me to believe that if that were true then God would be cruel.
I will not, do not, believe in a cruel God.
When I hear the phrase it forces me to look at the worst experiences of my life to look for ‘reason” behind them. Let me let you in on a secret, there is no reason for child sex abuse besides the fulfilling of the selfish, physical, sexual drives of a sexual abuser. It is not a part of God’s master plan to teach me empathy and forgiveness. He did not orchestrate my abuse for the twisted reason of making me stronger. An individual made a choice – an evil, awful, choice but they did not have help from any God I would chose to believe in.
I believe instead in a God who chooses to weep with me for the deeply unjust way the world and people can be sometimes. I believe in a God that has felt the deepness of my pain and is desperately trying to relieve it. I do not have the answers for everything, especially when it comes to the complexities of life, purpose, God, agency of others, experiences, consequences, circumstances, or miracles.
What I hold onto, however, is that life is more cause and effect than reason based. Life happens, things happen; good, amazing things happen every single day and unfortunately so do painful, horrifically, awful things. I believe in a God that wants to enrich every good experience in our lives to its maximum capacity while at the same time sitting with us in our darkest times and seeking to find ways to construct any type of good out of what has been so horribly bad.
He is not generating the good and bad experiences in our lives like some giant puppet master, playing out a story with inanimate objects to teach a lesson or story to some made up audience. He is our Father! He is in this life with us for as much or as little as we will allow him to be. We are real to Him! You are real to Him! He isn’t waiting for anyone to achieve some level of goodness so that he can give him or her the nice things that bring about the “good reasons” behind everything happening for a reason.
The question can then be asked: but what about meaning? Where am I finding meaning if it is not in everything happens for a reason?
Let us see meaning in our character, our strength, our resilience, our frailty, our failure, our pain, our joy, our prosperity, our humanness. When we search for meaning in the experiences that life brings to our doorstep instead of who we’ve become as a result of our collective life experiences we will be falling down the rabbit hole into a subjective world with fun house mirrors, that distort our reasoning and leave us feeling ill.
There isn’t one reason or purpose I should be searching to find as a reason for my childhood sexual abuse. It’s too elusive an endeavor. Still, I have a choice to now begin to use my pain instead of having my pain use me, for it has been using me for far too long. I have the choice to find meaning in what I chose my life to be instead of what I thought it was destined to be as a result of my life experiences.
If it is meaning we are searching for, let us find that meaning in how we chose to act in the face of our experiences, not the experiences themselves.