by Susan Agrawal
If you have a child with a disability or complex medical condition, I can almost guarantee you that someone, at some point, has told you, “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve become convinced that the only people who actually believe this are people who have picture-perfect lives, or who are living with such blinders on that they have no sense of reality.
As for the remaining 99% of us, everything doesn’t always happen for a reason.
Usually the people who believe everything happens for a reason also think that everything is part of God’s plan. I don’t know about you, but I see an awful lot of suffering going on in the world today. Whether it is a child being born with a medical condition requiring lots of painful surgeries, a parent whose child dies, or a community rocked with a devastating and potentially deadly disease, I simply cannot find a reason or a plan behind that level of suffering.
If it is “God’s plan” to cause children to suffer, parents to mourn, and communities to perish, I’m not really sure I’m interested in that god. Imagine if there were a dictator of a country who intentionally made children sick, intentionally killed children, and devastated entire communities on purpose, just to prove a point. We would call that cruel. We would call that inhumane. We would call that a violation of civil rights and the Geneva Convention. We would rebel against that dictator and put him in jail, or maybe even put him to death.
So, why do we think it is fine to attribute all the things that happen to us–everything painful, awful, evil, or just plain difficult–to “God’s plan” or the all-important “for a reason?” To me, that perception would require a god who is cruel, vindictive, vengeful, and manipulative. I can’t imagine anyone wanting that kind of god, and I definitely hope no one would choose to exalt someone like that.
I especially dislike when people say your child was born with a disability or medical condition because you did something evil in your life (or your child did something evil in a past life). This premise requires three completely wrong assumptions. The first is again the concept of a god who is vengeful and vindictive. The second is the belief that a god would impose your evils, or those of one of your past incarnations, on a completely innocent child. And the third is that children with disabilities or medical conditions are cursed or somehow “less than”; that they are born from evil. That could not be farther from the truth. They are part of the amazing diversity of life on this planet.
Unfortunate things don’t happen for a reason. They are not part of God’s plan. They just happen because things just happen.
To be honest, trying to sort out why things happen isn’t really important, though many of us have spent years dwelling on it. Most of us just spend time trying to find someone or something to blame, which improves nothing.
What IS important is what you do with the reality of your situation.
Yes, there are very valuable and important lessons to learn from difficult situations. Parenting a child with a disability or complex medical issues will change you in many wonderful ways–and sometimes some not-so-wonderful ones as well.
That’s not part of a so-called “plan,” but rather an education that can only come from the interwoven fabric of humanity, with all of its good characteristics and its bad. Difficult situations shape us immeasurably, and have just as much potential–if not more–to help us develop empathy, compassion, and to change our own lives for the better.
While everything doesn’t happen for a reason, we can take what has happened and turn it into a reason…a reason for being a better person, a reason for understanding, a reason for loving.