Friday, August 29, 2014

Not Everything Happens For A Reason

I'm sure you've all heard or said at one time: "Everything happens for a reason."

And I say to that: nope. Not true.

Before you dismiss me, thinking I'm trying to depress everyone, take heart! This is actually good news!

Harry Belafonte singing 1954.jpgLet's take a journey back to my college days. I was struggling immensely in my faith. But I was also struggling on a basic physical level: I was having extreme vocal pain every time I sang or talked for an extended period of time (anything longer than 15 minutes). I was seeking vocal coaching and was going to a voice therapist, learning exercises to help, and trying to figure out how to relax my throat muscles. I went on vocal rest, where I couldn't sing or talk for awhile. And let me tell you, vocal rest sure makes you appreciate your ability to talk.

Nothing was really helping. For months and months, I was trying to figure out how to solve the problem. It eventually got to a point where I had to seriously consider whether or not I should continue my degree in music education. Because let's face it...a music teacher who can't talk or sing can't really teach at all.

I began to get angry. I resented the fact that something that came so naturally for everyone else was a daily struggle for me. I didn't understand why this huge obstacle was preventing me from doing what it was a knew was the right path for me: becoming a music teacher.

It got to a point where I became angry with God. After all, He was the one who gave me this burden, right? In my mind, it just wasn't fair. How could a loving God bring harm on anyone, even if it was for a greater good?

I reached a breaking point at a Mass I was supposed to sing at. I knew I was supposed to be resting my voice, but I wanted to try and sing to see if things had gotten any better. As the Mass went on, and the searing pain in my throat became worse and worse, it was clear that things were not better. If anything, they were worse.

It took all the concentration I could muster to not break down in tears in the middle of Mass. Afterward, I ran out and drove home. I needed to be alone.

I went outside and sat down, looking heavenward. I started to mentally tell at God...I couldn't, after all, actually yell, so yelling inside my head was the best I could do. "Why are you doing this to me? What kind of God are you?"

After holding this anger in my heart for awhile, I realized I needed to talk to someone about this issue. I also needed to confess my sin of harboring anger in my heart. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and go to confession. It is, after all, kind of like free therapy.

I explained to the priest what my issue was. And I said, "I know God is giving me this burden for a reason, but I just don't understand it yet." The priest then said something that completely altered my view on God, and life in general.

"God does not cause bad things to happen to us. He does, however, bring good out of any bad situation. But the root cause of any bad or evil situation is not from God, because God is only good."

I thought about it. And it began to click. God's original plan did not include anything bad or evil. It did not include death, sickness, sin, disaster, or evil. In Adam and Eve's free choice to sin, they opened the door for all this. And we continue today to suffer from those consequences. Some bad things happen as a result of original sin that are out of our control, like natural disasters and serious illness. But these are not from God...they happen because we live in an imperfect world as a result of Adam and Eve's choice. And other bad things happen because of our own choices, not God's: health issues from poor nutrition (assuming we actually made the choice to eat poorly) and lack of exercise, losing a job because we were lazy, relationship problems from us refusing to swallow our pride, etc etc etc.

The point is, none of it is caused by God. He allows bad things to happen, yes. But He does not cause it. He does, however, make good come out of any bad situation if we allow Him to. But it is only because He is infinite goodness, not because He put us in a bad situation only so that He could make something good come out of it.

So what good did God bring out of my situation? Well, for starters, because I went through a period of over a year where I could not use my voice (talking or singing) without extreme pain, I certainly do not take this ability for granted now that I can. Using our voices is something most people don't even think twice about, but I am so incredibly thankful for it. My struggles have also made me a better teacher. I had to learn, from scratch, about how to correctly use my voice and relax my throat muscles. This means that I can better explain to students exactly how to sing and use their voices, which is something many teachers simply assume students know how to do. 

So next time someone says, "If God leads you to it, He will get you through it," think twice. God is not "leading" us anywhere bad. But in His loving goodness, He always finds a way to bring us out of the storms.

Photo credit:
"Harry Belafonte singing 1954" by Carl Van Vechten - Library of CongressPrints and Photographs DivisionVan Vechten Collection, reproduction number LC-USZ62-103726 DLC (b&w film copy neg.).. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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