“Everything happens for a reason.”
I hear this statement frequently. I listened to a couple of riders last week who mentioned it within the context of a conversation. “I got a DUI; so I can’t drive now. I guess everything happens for a reason.” “Why were you drinking so much?” (I silently ask of the rider?)”
Shit, (I continue saying to myself) I’ve been really lucky when I’ve driven drunk in the past. I didn’t get caught.” Did I escape punishment for some unknowable reason?
“Everything happens for a reason.”
I hear people say this away from my car, especially in hospitals and at funerals. A beloved person, often a hero, is dying and a grieving person implies that God needs their cherished friend or family member. God took ______ home because _____. I have a hard time reasoning that response because I heard it throughout my youth when well-intentioned people told me why my biological father died in his 40s when I was just two years old.
Everything happens for a reason. Really?
Tell me about such a reason when a mother and father receive the news that their unborn baby is dying in the womb. That’s tough, drop to the floor, shrivel up and feel completely void kinda news. Did that tragedy occur because God needed that baby for some other-worldly purpose? On the other hand…what shall we say about everything happening for a reason when another family receives the news that their prematurely born baby is going to be fine following a difficult pregnancy and emergency surgery? What’s the reason for that miracle happening in one situation, not another?
I spend plenty of time ruminating over such questions when I’m hanging out in the car in between requests for a ride. ‘Maybe too much time. Last week I came up with an answer. It’s this. Life happens and how we reason it out impacts how we live. Things don’t happen for a reason. They happen. What we choose to do next makes all the difference in the world. Everything happens and our reasoning shapes how we react or respond, simply or profoundly.
For example, I don’t think there is some sort of divine connection between me and the next person who requests an Uber ride from me. I think whatever has happened, is happening, and we hope/fear may happen after the ride is over shapes the connection we will have with ourselves and one another during the journey.
Jesus says something about choosing between spiritually deep thinking rather than accepting simplistic answers for life. “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6: 26-27). Many Christians interpret that bit of scripture to mean that human beings must accept Jesus’ salvation from sin and suffering. I read it differently. Accepting simple answers for complex reasons is a akin to accepting bread and eating our fill of comforting daily loaves.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Jesus and his exemplary manner of sacrificially offering his life and death. I also feed upon great bread, and God-given simplistic solutions just as much as anyone else does. And, living a spiritually whole life as a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Spirtual-seeker or whoever means that we have to dig much deeper than just showing up at life’s comfort stations. Wholehearted life means “Be-living” each day as we earnestly search for biological, intellectual, and spiritual food that endures throughout all of life’s offerings. Living a wholehearted life takes much more work than simply accepting a large does of everything happens reasoning.
I hope this blog will be a place where people show up with simple and tough questions and answers alike. I wanna host an adaptive space for people to bring their authentic selves and be vulnerable with one another well past their next Uber ride. Maybe someone will find their way here because of some Divine reason. Maybe others will just show up. We’ll reason it out I trust.
On to the next ride. …