Photo By Rachel Thompson
In our search for knowledge and understanding, it is helpful to believe we are doing “the right thing”. After all, everything happens for a reason – or does it? Hardly a day goes by without that phrase being voiced or written. However, that question was posed to me about about 3 years ago and I’ll never forget the impact it had. I strutted into my therapist’s office and we started discussing a particular difficulty I was facing. Taking a deep breath to assure myself, I uttered to him, “I know this is happening for a reason…..” at which point he interjected, “Does it, John? Does everything happen for a reason”?
This thought blindsided me as though I were a quarterback being sacked! Throughout the entire time in therapy, I worked hard towards my progress. On many occasions, Shannon complimented me on how well I was doing but this time it felt like the carpet was ripped out from under me. This phrase, which I proudly exclaimed on several occasions helped secure my understanding and increased my faith that whatever happened – whether good or bad – was ultimately for my benefit. Now I was questioning everything; including my progress up to that point. Fortunately there had been other moments when we disagreed and maybe this was another one of those times. I don’t recall how long we continued the discussion but what followed was a major paradigm shift in my thinking.
The truth is we could argue ad infinitum whether or not everything happens for a reason. It may be an integral part of your faith or core beliefs. It’s possible that hours of research could be spent on making (or breaking) your case. But does it really matter? Stop and ask yourself, is it ultimately important whether or not everything happens for a reason?
I like to answer that question with another. Does it really matter? Whatever happened, happened. There is no changing it. But what we can change is how we react and how we move forward from that occurrence. When “something happens”, our reactions should be more of a consideration than why it did. This is not a blanket statement that things DON’T happen for a reason. My girlfriend is one of the biggest believers in that idea and I encourage her to express it. But we can spend too much time focusing on the wrong issue. When someone is in a desperate situation such as a refugee, if we focus on why it happened, it can negatively impact our reactions to their needs.
Why some things happen isn’t always important but what we learn and how we progress is. Next time you find yourself saying, “everything happens for a reason”, ask yourself, does that matter? It very well may but how we move forward ultimately determines our lives more than the why it did. As always your thoughts are welcomed.