My social media trail for the morning led me to a cool Facebook page, Live Intentionally, an encouraging oasis in the vast world of social outpourings. The trail I turned down to get me to this point right here involved the question: “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?” I committed to answering the question so, of course, I went after it thoroughly. Somewhat.
But what of it? This statement, “Everything happens for a reason,” teeters on the brink of sheer stupidity and well, brilliance. It just depends on how willing you are to explore what it proposes. For one, most things happen for a reason. Apples fall from trees because gravity and ripeness play with each other to the point of inevitability. Forces we can’t see are at work all the time and this idea, that “forces” are at work, creates an almost magical or Divine notion of God at work or the Universe doing something for our good. And there are times when life slams us with signs, with songs, with phrases and “happenstance” designed to get our attention. Truly.
What is my answer to “does everything happen for a reason?” Yes. And. No. Yes because cause and effect are what they are, dancing with each other ’til the collapse into the next song. The next song of cause and effect. Yes, because, when we’re not consciously working towards certain outcomes, we’re still usually causing things to happen on levels we’re unaware of. The mighty unconscious, the ice under the tip of the iceberg. Etc. etc. And yes, everything happens for a reason, because I personally believe love is always at work for our best. Always. This “yes” addresses the underlying spirit in the statement from some who believe “all things work together for good.” All things might work together for good if you get yourself moving in the direction of your best efforts without fear and hopefully with the best of timing! Not too soon, not too late. Go to a garden with tomatoes growing, maybe you want one now. Maybe you see one now and maybe you’re color blind. You might not have a good time with the tomato you pick. We need the eyes to see and the experience to know when a situation or a person is at that point of readiness for whatever is needed or wanted. And back to the garden and love working always for our good. How do we make sure that when “everything happens for a reason” we’re able to get the most and best out of the happenings? By avoiding cynicism, by keeping the earth of our hearts fertile, breaking up the hardness and allowing life to break us open as we’re able. By knowing that we can lose precious irretrievable things, situations and people.
So, yes, everything happens for a reason. And yet. No. No to several of the toxic layers of the oft-present SPIRIT of this question. Those toxic layers?
1. The underlying desire to tag everything I can’t currently change as “events bigger than me” What makes this toxic? Powerlessness as an attitude when all avenues of possibility have not been exhausted is sometimes tragic. For example, when you ignore your valid anger in a situation because you can’t see the way out of it or because you don’t want to bother with “bigger” people who are being destructive. Or when you assume the doctor has all the answers and, as it turns out, the doctor is not even slightly diligent or caring beyond the greedy bottom line. But, powerlessness is also sometimes the only answer or solution (even if only temporarily) in a situation. But knowing the difference between when to act, dig, insist, employ relentless scrutiny and effort and when to let go requires maturity, humility, and self-awareness. I’ve discovered that particular trinity of character can be rare in many lives and requires a level of diligence to cultivate on my own part in my own life that is sometimes just downright annoying. But it’s so worthwhile.
2. The inevitable “surrender” posing as the inner wise man who just knows God is up to something or the Universe is so very wise when you just don’t wanna look at the dirt on your clothes. This one is not dissimilar to the first toxic layer. But it’s also potentially a mock surrender to a God who may or may not exist, may or may not want you to give up and may or may not want this situation in your life…supposing these possibilities matter to you. It presumes much. What if this God you believe in exists and this happened because you or someone else didn’t give due diligence to something critical and now God’s sitting by steaming with frustration because you’ve taken the “This happened for a reason beyond my comprehension” approach as a pious, “wise” stance that really means you want to avoid the truth? And God/Universe sure ain’t gonna infringe on your free will. Is it possible that many people really mean, when they say “everything happens for a reason,” “I can’t deal with this. I don’t want to even think about why that happened because I have a feeling it will hurt when I realize the truth.” And “I don’t. really care, next?” Or do they mean “Don’t bother me with anything, I only want to deal with my world and my wants.” Apathy, fear and powerlessness. Sometimes it’s all we have, actually. Sometimes it’s the best stance until we’re ready. If you can’t care, you can’t care. But it’s not where I want to reside on any regular basis if, and only if, I can help it. It tends to cause things to happen for reasons of apathy, fear and powerlessness. Ugh. To borrow from the brilliance of LIVING INTENTIONALLY, where’s the intention of love in apathy?
3. The refusal to actually dig into why things are happening because “everything happens for a reason” often means “God did this. Not me, not you, not my big sister or brother.” Again, not too different from 1 and 2 but it includes the avoidance of others’ power and actually prevents a process of deeper love and awareness. How so? By shutting down the capacity to see clearly and love anyway. This happened because he didn’t face something (gee, I can so relate to not having it to face some things! Enter: Empathy; Exit: Judgemental Nonsense.) and the result is less than pleasant (I would so like this to be better! Go ahead! Give your energy to the truth so good intentions can grow!) and could’ve been prevented (How can this go differently next time around?!). But damn if I don’t still love him and understand his humanity even more now and want to be there for him. (Deeper, fuller, more honesty. Gee, this happened so I could love more? I don’t know…) But, also, it challenges you to decide if you want to continue with people who keep accidentally hurting you through their inability to grow. And sometimes, we do decide we’d rather put up with so much else than lose that one person. Count the cost. Be aware. Make your choices alive with a conscious and fully present spirit, not a mock surrender to a God who’d rather you face yourself and the people you love.
Everything happens for a reason…and things happen because they happen. But I bet we just don’t know why yet…