Is life like a boomerang? By this, I mean, is it true that if you do good things, always see the positive side of life, work hard, and treat others with kindness you will be rewarded for it? Has the word blessed become one of the most cliched words in society today? Are those who live this perfect life the only blessed people? You see it hash-tagged everywhere on Twitter; hashtag blessed for my perfect family and perfect McMansion or hashtag blessed under a picture of a girl in a barely there bikini. What is bikini girl really blessed with, I ask myself. A good body? Living in this culture it is hard to distinguish the difference between virtue and success, what "good" really is and how "good" paves our fate.
When my mother got her cancer diagnosis I remember having the thought why do bad things have to happen to good people? She hasn't so much as killed a fly, I've never heard her say a foul word, and she's the most giving person I know. After months of cursing God and not understanding why this had happened to her because she was a good person so good things should be happening, I came to the realization that this belief of "good things happening to good people" is nothing more than a mindset to get us to achieve success, to have the oomph to go after big dreams, and to leave behind our fears. It is not a bad mindset to have and it works all the way up until you are sitting in a doctor's office with your mother and hear that her life will be coming to an end or when you find out your husband has been betraying you your entire marriage or any other experience that makes you unable to abandon that fear, have those perfect dreams shattered, and question the success you worked your whole life for. It is in these times that one realizes even mindsets and mantras can fail you. My mother's gracious personality, her positive nature, her perfect morals, and her "goodness" could not save her or give her the good ending she deserves.
It was a harsh reality to learn that we are not entirely in control of what happens to us and that a "do good things and good things will happen to you" mantra is not how our destiny is controlled. In reality, we are all only a second away from a life destroying or life altering experience. We are all only a breath away from a situation that we can't summon our good things mantra to get out of or help us at least manage the disaster we face.
Personally, my life has now been divided into the before my mother's cancer diagnosis/ betrayal of my husband followed by the after of these two events. A soldier might see their life as the before the IED went off and then the after, who they were before the tragedy and who they are now. For those that have an "after", we find ourselves asking at times how we continue to live a good life with all of these bad things? Would it be better to live without the mindset and belief that good things happen to good people? Do people deserve what they get? Do we really need to spend our "after the tragedy" searching for a reason as to why the bad thing(s) happened to us in the first place? Did what happen to me happen because of my character or was it that God wanted me to be able to help others? Is there really some kind of hidden philosophy for the chaos myself and others go through daily?
We all want reasons as to why things happen. I want a reason why my dear mother is dying of cancer. The soldier wants a reason why his particular convoy went over that IED. When things make sense they are loads easier to acknowledge and deal with. We want to believe that being a good person, working hard, and doing the right things in life was all for naught. What we struggle to understand, is that there really is no parallel between the things you do and how long you are destined to be on this Earth or how good your time on Earth will be.
Maybe you can't will good things to happen to you by simply being a good person & maybe horrific things can and do happen to really good people. It was when I understood this, that we are not entitled to those big dreams of ours and a person's "goodness" doesn't deter bad things from happening, I began to cross paths with others just like me. People who didn't have a clue what life was about, people who had learned the hard way that the plans they'd made for their lives could be instantly changed and because of this a connection was formed that will be imprinted in me for the rest of my life. Part of that imprint is the understanding that things can be painful yet beautiful, remarkable yet horrifying, and good yet bad.
Although I do not understand the connection between these opposites, I am beginning to believe that they are intended to go together, hand in hand. Life can be beautiful and life can be painful, it can be good and it can be very, very bad. Instead of believing that you will only have good things happen to you if you do good things maybe we should instead start believing that there is no guarantee in life and all we can really have is hope.. hope to live a long life, hope to live it as painless as possible, and hope that it is a life full of beauty.