Growing up in a religious household, there has always been a place for God in my life. More than that, I’m a person that genuinely enjoys going to church, and having an active religious life. From the words of wisdom delivered in the homily, to praying with a hundred others for the things that weigh so deeply on my heart, to spending a few quiet moments with God, reflecting on my life and the person I am, it feeds my soul.
That being said, if there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s pretending to know what’s God will is in all of this. Specifically, the statement that everything happens for a reason just rings so hollow to me every time I hear it. I’m sorry if you’ve said this to me before – I’m not trying to single you out, and believe me you are not the only one. Several friends and relatives have said it by now, and I know that it comes from not knowing what else to say when someone you love is hurting. Don’t worry, I get it. And I’d much rather have someone reach out to me to say something they’re not sure of, than to not reach out at all.
But still, every time I hear that phrase, the wheels in my head start turning and I wonder about the logic behind it. If everything happens for a reason, that implies that God makes bad things happen to us. If I thought God gave me my Lyme disease to somehow make me a better person, I would be pretty mad at God. Can you imagine having a friend that put you through hell for years, made you question everything in your life, and then smiled and told you it was all a test, and you passed? I would be walking the other way from a friend like that. I suppose there is evidence of God acting like that in the Old Testament, but I just can’t imagine God who is all-loving and all-good treating his most blessed creation in that way.
It also doesn’t seem to leave any room for free will when we insinuate that God is behind everything. If God is just driving everything in our lives, then what is the point of the journey? How are we supposed to freely become close with him when we are being pushed in that direction all along? That doesn’t sit well with me either.
I tend to think that evil exists in the world, because free will also exists, and so bad things happen. God doesn’t want these things to happen, but he lets them because he wants us to have free will, and he lets us know that he will never forsake us. He gave us Jesus to know that however much we suffer in life, he knows our pain, and is there with us.
It’s not a coincidence that Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world at a time when we have processed all of the nutrition out of food, we overwork our bodies to the point where they are in a perpetual state of stress, and we are destroying the environment that was designed to protect us. This is a human disease – a failure of the owners of the planet to protect the resources we have been given. It’s not something that God wanted or designed. God didn’t give me Lyme Disease.
While God didn’t give me Lyme, it is through his creation that I am finding health again. While the drugs made in laboratories made me sicker, it’s the extracts from plants in our backyards that have given me my strength and joie de vivre back! The supplements of minerals that should be found in soil, the vitamins that should be found in fresh produce. My doctor tells me that their goal is to get my body healthy enough to fight this thing off on its own, because the amazing thing is that it can! It is very empowering and makes me so in awe of the human body that it knows how to protect and repair itself from the most debilitating disease, if only we nurture it and give it time. I am also amazed at the variety of talents in the people that have helped me along the way. They each look at Lyme in a different way, from a different viewpoint, and have all offered me something invaluable along the way. It is amazing to see God working through all of these people. It is hard to not believe in God when you can see everything so clearly laid-out to lead to your well-being.
So, I said earlier that I can’t pretend to know what God’s will is, but I guess that’s not quite true. I believe God’s will is for me to get better, and that will happen in due time. In the mean time, I will remain in awe of all that creation has to offer me on my path to wellness.
So please, don’t tell me that everything happens for a reason and this disease is all a part of God’s plan. Instead, help me to see the good of his creation when I’m despairing. Help me to feel loved and appreciated even when I don’t feel like I bring much to the table. Ask me how I am and just listen to me when I answer. You don’t even have to believe in God to do this – and I certainly don’t hold it against you if you don’t. Help me in this way and I will be able to get a lot more meaning out of the whole experience than by believing that God wills it. Help me in this way and I will never forget what a good friend you were in one of the most trying times.