There’s a popular saying I’m almost positive I hear once a day. Everything happens for a reason.
Spilled coffee all over yourself before work. Everything happens for a reason.
Ran out of gas. Everything happens for a reason.
Got fired from a job. Everything happens for a reason.
Loved one passes away. Everything happens for a reason.
And on and on it goes.
I’m not sure when I realized it, but somewhere along the line of growing up, I realized how much of a problem I have with this saying. I’m aware of how comforting this saying can be. It’s nice to have hope that things are going to work out and that every situation in your life happened for a very special and specific reason, because if you believe that everything happens for a reason, then you will probably have an easier time getting through whatever happens to you. But I’m also aware of how often this saying is used as an excuse. Sometimes you just run out of gas because you forgot to fill up the tank. Sometimes you get fired from a job for no other reason than you just weren’t doing the work good enough.
I happen to agree that everything does happen for a reason. But I suppose that phrase to me is more times than not more of a “no duh” statement. (No offense to those who firmly believe that everything does in fact happen for a reason.) Any action taken (even a non-action) is going to produce some type of result: Cause and Effect. So yes, everything does happen for a reason.
But do I think that everything that happens to us was supposed to happen exactly how it happened so some greater good could come from the experience? No, I don’t. At times that can certainly be the case, but sometimes bad things happen to us because our actions or someone else’s actions force them to happen. Sometimes bad things happen for the simple fact that life just sucks. Can something good come from our bad decisions and our bad experiences? Of course. Did said bad experience happen just so we could learn from it? No, I don’t think so.
Sometimes we just have to deal with the consequences of our decisions. The ability to learn from and gain something positive from a bad decision/bad experience is simply a blessing that allows us to hopefully grown as a person. One doesn’t lose a child or get cancer JUST so they could learn to appreciate their own life more. Learning to appreciate life is just a wonderfully bittersweet lesson gained from a terrible experience.
Some things are out of our control. No matter what we do, we have no real influence on the cause or even the effect. And that really sucks. But I’m talking about those mistakes we make that we had complete control over.
Like my weight, for example.
Over the winter I gained back almost 20 pounds that I worked so hard to lose during the summer/fall. Why did this happen? Because I let it happen. I caused it to happen. It was my choice, and now I am dealing with the consequences.
Now, I have to lose those 20 pounds before I get back to where I was. This didn’t happen for some magical reason. It happened because I ate too much food and didn’t move enough. Thankfully, though, I can learn from it and move on. I take full responsibility for my gains, and that gives me comfort because this is something I can actually control. I can control what I eat and when I move.
We are free to choose, but we must realize that the consequences of our actions are always going to be there. We can always learn from the things that happen to us, regardless of whether or not they “happen for a reason”.