Well-meaning people say a lot of stupid stuff.
I think if you’ve ever faced a giant like loss or terminal illness, and you’ve ever talked to someone who hasn’t quite faced a giant of the same magnitude in their own life, you understand.
Well-meaning believers can be the worst of them.
I remember a long time ago, shortly after my husband’s cancer relapsed, the kindest and most well-meaning person looked me in the eye and spoke the words, “God gives his best soldiers the hardest battles.”
I smiled. I tried to be flattered, I mean, I do think it was meant as a compliment.
But the more I thought about this…God… this ruler of all, who has this authority over me, and my husband, and our bodies, and the more I pictured him up there brainstorming, thinking, “You know, I have this cancer, and some couple has to face it, and this awkward little couple in the boondocks of Indiana seems pretty strong, so I’ll just give it to them,” all I could bring myself to think was…
“Well, screw that guy.”
Blasphemy, I know. Burn me at the stake. But I mean, that’s messed up, right?
It’s messed up to think that someone stuck a horrid and relentless disease into my husband’s bones to make some great point or to test our strength.
And then I really got to thinking, if I’m praying for God to remove cancer from his body, and people are telling me that God is the one who put it in his body, then am I praying to or against God and this thing that he “gave us.”
That doesn’t make sense, right?
Sometimes people, beautiful, thoughtful, well-meaning people say stuff like, “Everything happens for a reason.” And then they act like I’m supposed to figure that reason out eventually. I’m supposed to sit here and contemplate that reason… so I have.
I’ve thought about the past three years. I’ve thought about the misdiagnoses, the false hope, the correct diagnoses, the loss of hope… and you know what I decided?
I think it’s all Bullshit.
The Bull Shittiest of Shit there ever was.
Buffalo Shit, if you will.
I don’t think there is a divine reason that my husband got cancer.
I don’t think that there is a divine reason for your battle, or your loved one’s illness.
I most certainly don’t think there is any divine reason that some people have to bury their own children.
I don’t think there is any divine reason that some people don’t get to meet their own children, or conceive their own children.
I don’t think there is a divine reason that some people fall victim to addiction, or mental illness, or depression.
I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I think sometimes, things just happen, and they suck, and we have to navigate them the best we can.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think these things, the ones that suck the most, can’t be used for something greater. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that we can react in ways that add a little meaning to the pain.
When people pray for us, we often hear strong declarations followed by the words, “If it be Your will.”
“Heal him, if it be Your will.”
“Cast the tumors out of his body, if it be Your will.”
To be totally vulnerable here, I never know what to think of that, those words, that submissive plea- because it’s honestly hard for me to believe that any of this was His “will” in the first place.
I don’t know God’s will, not for my life, not for my husband’s, but I don’t think cancer was a part of it. I don’t think God’s will ever involves cancer, or loss, or illness. I think we live in an evil world, and that evil creeps into our lives, our bodies, our hearts, our bones, but I don’t believe that God wills it there, puts it there. At least not the God that I choose to believe in.
Why it happens, why some people experience these things, and others don’t…I just don’t know.
I don’t know why some people are forced to carry heavier loads than others.
I don’t know why some people receive miracles and other’s don’t.
I don’t know why some of the people granted the longest lives are the same ones that seem to waste every breath on hate and disgust.
I don’t know why. And I probably never will.
Let’s just say, if you have any questions for God you better ask them before I’m called home because I got a list of questions that will keep him busy for centuries.
What I do know is… even if this isn’t His “will,” it is my life, and what I make of it, what I do with this hand I’m dealt, is completely my choice.
The same goes for you, for your life, for that hand you’re currently shaking your head at right now.
What I do know is I’ve always survived. Every bad hand, every time I said, “if this card is drawn then I’m folding…” I didn’t, I kept playing, and you will too.
What I do know is… I’ve always found a way to carry the load throughout the journey, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t always heavy, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be heavy for the rest of my life… just that I can carry it.
You can carry it.
What I do know is, you can inhale pain and exhale art. You can absorb tragedy and speak truth. You can take your vulnerabilities and offer them as strength to someone else in need.
People, artists, writers, musicians, they’ve been doing it for years.
I don’t believe there is always a reason. I don’t believe I have some destiny in my life that gave cancer to the person I love most in the world. I don’t believe that fate bombarded my mind throughout the years with depression and anxiety.
I don’t believe there is always a reason, but I do believe there is always a choice on how we choose to play our hand.
Artists make beautiful things out of pain, out of the things that are simply without reason, so today let’s choose to be artists.
Ps. It was so many of your replies and the vulnerability you’ve all shared with me in comments, notes, and stories over the past month that helped to prompt this blog idea. Writing this post brought me a lot of healing, a lot of grace for myself, my faith, and the world around me. I hope it brings you some sort of healing as well. Your kind words keep me writing, and emptying, and sharing the scariest parts of me. You all keep me posting even when everything in me wants to stay silent. Thank you so much for the life your responses have given to me and this little site.