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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why Bad Things DON'T Happen to Good People

 ...always used to remind me that life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you pick up a piece and it looks like it's not going to fit. It just doesn't look like it belongs in this jigsaw. Maybe the manufacturer accidentally included a piece from another puzzle. You put it aside and start to put the puzzle together. As the picture in the puzzle grows, it begins to dawn on you that this strange piece might actually have its place. More pieces fit into place and you see clearly now that this piece was in the right box. When you are almost done, you know exactly where this piece is going to go.  And finally, the puzzle is complete, apart from this one piece. When you put this seemingly defective piece in its correct position, it is just what is necessary to make the puzzle complete and perfect. Without it, the puzzle would not work. So too in life,...there are pieces thrown our way that seem like they should not be there. Surely this is not meant to happen in my life? Surely this is not right for me? As life develops and time goes on, we start to see that what happened might just have its place in the bigger picture of life. Eventually, we come to realize that not only does this have its place, it is a beautiful part of the puzzle, entirely necessary to make the story of life complete and perfect. It just requires some patience. ...it was a painful and challenging experience - but it has fit just right and I would not have wanted it any other way. While we would not have chosen for Ian to have had a terminal illness, this was how he was given to us and I can't imagine not having him at all. Most of the time, I think better to of had him with his illness than to not of had him at all. A perfect piece to our puzzle.

Bad things or good things. The easiest way to define bad is by first defining good. ...good is that which leads us towards self-perfection; that which enables us to become great human beings we are capable of becoming; that which helps us to find closeness to God that is available to us. Bad is that which takes us away from God, that which hinders us from achieving our potential. Everything has the potential to be good and everything has the potential to be bad. Our reaction to what happens is the deciding factor. Bad things don't happen to good people. But neither do good things. Things happen that could be either more or less painful. But they are not inherently good or bad. We human beings are the sole arbiters as to whether that which occurs in our lives will ultimately be good or bad. When we first learned of Ian's prognosis, Brian and I made many choices regarding our family and how we were going to deal with what lied ahead. Some of those choices we made right away others over time. Eventually, we decided to cherish every moment we could, to laugh, to be happy, to love and live. Yes there were times when the above didn't happen, when we cried, got angry, fought, or yelled. But it always came back to remembering how we wanted to be with our time together...treasure, dream and live. In the end, we followed Ian's lead on what he wanted and how he wanted to continue to live his life. Of course, we don't go looking for hardship in life, but  when it comes, we are not afraid of it; far from it, we embrace it as an opportunity to strive towards perfection. I'm not sure I believe in perfection but I do understand where the last sentence is coming from.

We all go through pain in this world. It comes at us from the outside. Suffering, however, is self-inflicted. It depends entirely on how we respond to our pain. If we see pain as something real, something tangible and important, then we will suffer. If we see beyond the pain to a deeper truth, then we may still go through the pain, but we do not have to suffer. Basically, we have been in pain, emotionally for Brian, Becca and I but mostly physically for Ian, but not suffering because we knew what we wanted to do with his time...make the most of it and enjoy them. We did go through our moments of suffering...the questions of why and sometimes I felt watching Ian be in as much pain as he was in, was suffering to me...watching your child be in constant pain is horrible...there is nothing you can do to make it better. 

Human beings have this nature versus nurture business, but we have an added dimension -- that of freewill. We are firstly influenced by the external forces in our makeup -- the nature of our genes -- both physical and spiritual. Once we come into the world, there is nurture and experience. But there is also freewill -- the ability to choose and shape our own destiny. You will often hear of the "nurture/nature" debate  --  which of the two factors is more significant in human development. We Jews agree with neither side. What truly has the potential to shape us is our freewill, who we decided we want to be. ...and for freewill to be at all meaningful, it must be real. ...we Jews do not ask for challenges. Who is arrogant enough to believe he will overcome them? We are all human after all. Yet, when they come, we relish our challenges, for they are all the true opportunities of life. I struggle with some of this...I do believe we have the ability to choose and shape our own destiny. However, there are somethings out of our control. Brian and I choice to have kids, we did not choose to have one with a terminal illness. Yet, we did choose how we responded to that illness and what we would to do make the most of it and Ian's life with us. I do believe your time here on earth is set for you when you are born so not all of your choices will matter and are influenced without you even knowing it. So back in 2013 when Ian was so sick and we had to decide it we trached him at that time or let him go...well since his time was not supposed to be over yet we were influenced (by God) somehow to make the decision to trache him.  When his time came on September 15, 2016, I believe it was his time and there was nothing we could have done to stop it. 

Death, ironically, makes us wake up and live. And the fact that people die at various ages -- some even very young -- should make us realize that we can take nothing for granted. If everyone lived until ninety, we would not use our time effectively at twenty or thirty or forty. We need death and we need the fact that people die young to remind us that the end can come at any moment. To remind us to live today in a way that we do not take tomorrow for granted.  Life ... have been a gift. And every extra moment of life is another added gift. Be it one thousand years of extra moments or one hundred years of extra moments or thirty years or ten or five years, or five months or five weeks or even five days....each and every moment remains a gift. Every moment is precious. Every moment is special. Every moment is something to be thankful for, instead of complaining about the moments that we or others were not granted. I think without knowing it the above is how we looked at things...it goes along with our saying; TREASURE YESTERDAY, DREAM OF TOMORROW, LIVE FOR TODAY. We tried very hard to make moments special...even just sitting around the house on a Sunday. The days Brian or I were home as nurse...we tried to cherish them. We asked Becca what things she wanted to do with Ian to have those moments, hence the movie day we had just 3 days before he passed. As Ian's disease progressed it was hard to have these moments outside of the house but we tried to make them happen inside...having the laughter, smiles, and even the tears.

To me this is a perfect metaphor for many things in life, I try not to complain about the things I know I have no control over. Somethings are what they are and there is nothing you can do to change them...such as Ian's illness and prognosis. I know that I do complain about things and try to think about them before doing so, not always possible, or I may realize afterwards and try to reconsider what I am complaining about. Imagine that you are climbing a mountain. For various reasons you need to get to the top. And it's a long and challenging climb. You can't turn back or give up; the summit is where you need to get to. You have two choices. You can groan and grumble and feel frustrated and annoyed all the way up. Or you can accept what you need to do and enjoy the view as you go. In both instances, you will get to the top. But one way is so much more enjoyable than the other. Why would we choose to grumble and groan our way through life, when there is always such a beautiful view to be enjoyed along the way? .


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