As a young person you have expectations. You expect the world to work in certain ways. You expect life to be fair. You expect good things will equal good things. You expect things to make sense. The world is mainly colored in black and white. Your dreams are attainable and the world is what you make of it.
Some, the lucky few, continue on believing this because they have never been forced to acknowledge the unreality of it. The rest of us, we step from the idealism of youth into reality, and reality is not what we expected it to be.
Life is not black and white. It is filled with shades of gray. You almost never get what you deserve and often get what you don’t deserve (often in a not so good way!). Good deeds often do not lead to good things even though they should. And bad things happen even to the best of people.
Like so many others who have tried to do the “right” thing, I find myself in a place of disillusionment. My idealism wrestles with reality and I look for answers to life size questions but no answers seem to be found. You can hear the question echoing through the centuries from untold numbers, “Where is God in the midst of this pain (injustice or substitute whichever word fits your life)?”
I was a good girl. Not perfect, but I always tried to do the right thing. Not only that, I went the extra mile. I went to some of the darkest places on the planet trying to do the little bit I could. Did this stop my daughter from dying? Did it stop my world from falling apart? Did it put me on a path of gumdrops and lollipops where everything is happy and the sun never stops shining? Absolutely not.
Even after our daughter died, we were hit by more hard times. The church where we had found our life’s meaning didn’t know what to do with us. Our daughter was not a great testimony to God’s miraculous healing powers, but rather our testimony shined the light on the still unanswered question of the ages. “Why does God allow bad things to happen to his children?” The church, being uncomfortable with questions they cannot answer, became uncomfortable with us as reminders of those unanswered questions. And so, when we needed the church the most, we became invisible.
I wish I had the answer. Sadly, even after wrestling with this question for eight years, I am no closer to coming to an adequate answer. Still, existence without God makes no logical sense to me. I have looked at it from every possible angle. God MUST exist.
Adding to this the fact that most of us will know pain and suffering at some point in our lives, I have to come to the conclusion that this too has its purpose. Why some have so much more pain than others I cannot say, but the fact that there is something essential to human nature in suffering seems undeniable to me.
I have to conclude that it is not profitable to avoid pain, no matter how badly we may want to do just that. Instead, I think we must accept the pain when it comes as best as we can and allow the pain to morph us into something better and more useful than untried “pie in the sky” optimism.
I can’t help but think of the line from the Princess Bride: “Life isn’t fair highness, anyone who says anything different is selling something.” (Wesley)
Though we know this cognitively, we still expect that life will be fair anyway. Because it should be. And when it isn’t . . . well, it leaves us disillussioned, disappointed and filled with angst.
I miss my idealism. Sometimes, I actually long for it. And I hate pain. Asolutely. Hate. It. And yet, I will not allow its presence in my life, and all the unanswered questions that go with it, to delude me. My life has a purpose, and this pain that I feel is not anti that purpose or God would not have allowed it.
I’ve grown up enough to know that most of us have pain we have shoved (and tried to hide) in the closet of our lives. It is not unique to you and it is not unique to me (though I sometimes have to remind myself of that!). It is part of the human experience. I wish I had the answer to why He hasn’t made the universe fair, but I don’t. What I do know is that you are not alone and it certainly does not mean that God does not see you or that He does not care. He does, even if our circumstances make it feel otherwise.
UPDATE: Ironically, I wasn’t writing this from that place of pain. I was more writing it because I know there are people out there who feel what I felt and I don’t want them to feel alone in that place. Most of us visit that place in different seasons of our lives. I guess I was hoping that maybe someone could gain from what I’ve learned. Apparently I didn’t do a good job of getting that across. Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts, but I’m okay right now. Really. 🙂