November 2010: Life Happens
Words are powerful. We all know this regardless of what we were taught as children. Sticks and stones do break our bones and words do hurt us. Words can break our hearts, our spirits. They can confuse us, misdirect us, deceive us. Not all words, of course. Words also have the power to heal and uplift, to encourage and motivate, to soothe and nurture.
Words are powerful. They also carry different meanings for different people. The same words spoken to three people can be encouraging to one, mean little to another, and devastating to the third.
This came home for me awhile back when a number of people attempted to encourage me but their words had the opposite effect.
Now this is where it gets tricky as it involves two words that I believe don’t belong together: God and control. This is also dangerous territory because people have very strong beliefs about God, and about control, and about God being in control.
However, for me, that last thought is not comforting. It just raises all sorts of questions; and life ceases to make sense. I appreciate how Robert Fulghum (1991, p. 140) addresses this quandary:
In my childhood I was told that God was all-powerful and lived far, far away. And that I could not see him until after I died. When I asked why, if God was so powerful, there were children starving in Mexico, I was told it was the will of God and that I should not worry about it. Instead, I should be concerned about making sure I didn’t attend the upcoming high school prom, because dancing was a sin and I should try not to sin. Now I am older. And I know that God is everywhere and in all things. There is nowhere that God is not, even in me. I also know that starving comes from not having enough food, and that is a human problem about which something can be done. I know now that dancing comes from having much joy. And when everyone has enough to eat, everyone will dance, especially Howard [insert your name for God].
Hmmm…separating the stuff human’s are responsible from what God is all about. Not easy. We tend to get it all mixed up together sometimes. We expect God to deal with stuff that is really our stuff. Or we may have a view of God that expects the Higher Being to be the Great Fixer or Wish Granter. I am just sorting through that stuff for myself.
Something I am learning to do is invite God into the chaos that is my life. And just waiting—for God to show up. No expectations. Just an open curiosity. I like this approach better. Leaves more room for mystery—and pleasant surprises. And I no longer hold God responsible for all the bad stuff that happens in life. Rather, Life Happens. And God is already there as it happens.
Life happens. I can make demands and petitions to the Power(s) that Be, the Cosmos, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Transcendent Being, Immanent Being, God; but regardless, life happens. The good, the bad, the ugly. And the surprising, and the beautiful, and the amazing. In the midst of all that, if I pay attention or look closely, God shows up. God is already Present.
May you experience pleasant surprises in the coming days that only the Great Mystery can give—and not worry about who is in control, but embrace life as it happens knowing the Presence is already with you—it may just take a second (or third) look to see it.