One of the things you will commonly hear with people that are working in the domain of spirituality or working on transforming and recovery is you might hear the term, “Everything happens for a reason.”
For me, working in a treatment setting, it is something I usually hear from somebody. And when I hear it, I actually think it is a good sign.
The story will go something like this
Somebody comes in and there is almost always some difficulty that has happened. Some challenge that has happened that brought them into treatment–a DUI, an issue with a spouse, an issue at work. Something has coerced them to go. Okay. Okay. Okay. I need to get some help.
It is very rare when somebody just comes in because they had a revelation. So I will be working with somebody in treatment and, you know, essentially they have a lot of wreckage in their life. Something has been devastated.
“I think that everything happened for a reason”
So they are depressed and they are having a difficult time. They do not want to be there and [wonder] what the hell happened to my life and all this stuff. Then you will see the mood start to shift and you might hear something after a couple of weeks when you are sitting in a group.
I am facilitating a group and somebody will say, “You know, this has been really difficult. This has been one of the hardest things that I have ever had to go through…But now looking back at what happened and having found myself here, I think that everything happened for a reason.”
So for me, that is where the phrase came from. I think when you have those kinds of phrases when they stick and they are passed down, it is because they are pointing to a certain kind of experience that people have.
That is not just people in recovery. Anybody can have that kind of experience.
Revelation or spiritual awakening
The experience is: I am going through a difficult time, but somehow the way I am seeing it and understanding it has changed.
I mean, from a spiritual point of view, we would call that a revelation or spiritual awakening. Suddenly, I look at my history and I see a consolidated cohesive story that I did not see before… And I look back and I go, “everything that has happened brought me to this moment”.
It is all for a reason. So for me that phrase–that is the truth of it. The truth of it is that experience. The phrase itself is not completely true. Some people make the mistake of allowing that phrase to become an ideology, to become a philosophy that they live by.
But it is a limited philosophy. It is limited in a couple of areas.
I will give an example, in my mind, you are sort of a fundamentalist spiritual or religious person if you have a young child, God forbid, that gets sick. Let us say terminally sick. Let us say a kid that has cancer and you are living by the philosophy everything happens for a reason.
What reason is that? I mean, you could give some religious reason, God has a plan. I do not understand. Okay, that is great. But if you were that God, you probably would not plan that. I do not know if I jive with that completely in the way I understand religion and spirituality.
The other way that it does not work is all of the mundane and randomness of our reality. The garbage bag breaking. I got a toothache.
Is that happening for a reason?
Yeah, I did not brush my teeth well, or I did not take care of this cavity but is it happening for a cosmic reason? Not one that I am interested in.
One of the ways that I approach the spirituality period is being able to draw a line as to where I am applying a spiritual lens and where I am not. If I know somebody who has a sick child, I do not go to the hospital and say, “Hey, this is happening for a reason.” I keep my mouth shut and say, how can I support you? Right?
So that term points to a very important, I would say, spiritual reality of: Wow, there is something here that has allowed me to be in this harmonic moment coming from a really difficult period.
There is something very essential, important, and spiritual about the experience, but it is not a life philosophy.
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