Fresh Living

Everything Happens for a Reason“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

– Marilyn Monroe

You’ve heard the adage a zillion times, no doubt. When things go very wrong or very right, inevitably someone will say, in elated or resigned tones, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Everything? Really? Is anything ever everything? Seems a bit hyperbolic, no?

Grammar and cliché-alert peeves aside, sometimes it feels like a great affirmation of what I know to be true–the universe has a structure; we may not always be able to see it, but there is a bigger picture, a larger puzzle that this piece of experience is clicking right into. It feels reassuring, calming. I can let go of control and relax a little bit. And those mini-revelations, years after an experience, when you think, “Ohhh, that’s why that had to work that way!” are little waves of magic that make everything feel whole and connected. Click!

Other times, “Everything happens for a reason” is a slap in the face. A way to invalidate or dismiss instead of process and understand in this lifetime, this moment, what we know to be true. A friend of mine who lost a baby was told often, “Everything happens for a reason.” A gesture of clueless kindness, meant to console, does not. Partly because trite sayings are not appropriate in tragedy. And partly because in the face of enormous loss it seems so utterly incorrect; a reality so barbaric could not be benevolent, could not fit into a grander thing. Edges this sharp couldn’t possibly complete a puzzle, they break it.

And yet. There is a possibility of gentle truth in those words: Your suffering is not in vain. This will make sense some day. And it might be useful, somehow, somewhere to someone. 

We don’t actually know the answer and we may never, at least not in this form. But in the meantime, when used judiciously, it can be a sweet hammock to melt into, feeling like just maybe the divine’s got your back.

What do you think? Does everything happen for a reason?

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