I wonder if everyone thinks like I used to and has sort of a line drawn in the sand about what you think “can possibly happen to me” and what “simply can never happen to me”. For instance when I’d hear of a certain tragedy that befell someone, I’d think either “Oh my God - that could have been me!” or it would simply never cross my mind because things like that “just can never happen to me.” There was kind of an “awful” factor that determined where everything fell under one of the two categories: - Could possibly happen although I hope and pray that it never does and - Much too horrible and can never really imagine “that” could ever happen to me.
Seriously, is it just me or does everyone kind of think like that?
I mean realistically I knew you could/would lose family members and that if you lived long enough everyone would experience loss to some degree. I had lost aunts, a cousin, my grandparents, two brothers in law and they were all terrific losses to me. But there still were certain things that I thought were kind of off-limits; just not the kind of thing that could ever happen to me. Like: I will never get cancer; I will never lose my mother or a sibling; I could never lose a spouse; I will never lose a child or a grandchild and maybe still a little bit of “I will never really die”. Unrealistic? Absolutely. But true just the same. Like the average sixteen year old that thinks they are invincible. They know death exists, they know what the risk factors are: like drinking and driving, experimenting with drugs, jumping from a nine story building with an umbrella etc. They know other people die from these things. And yet, somehow they magically believe that it can’t happen to them??? As parents of that sixteen year old, we drill home the fact that that is magical thinking and it certainly can happen (“so don’t do them!”) but as adults in the secret recesses of our own heart, we think at times just as illogically about what can and cannot happen in our lives.
But when you lose a child, an in-law child and a grandbaby in one single horrific day – suddenly you realize you are open game. If “this” in all its multiple layers of horror, can happen to me --ANYTHING and everything can happen. The line between those categories has been erased and everything falls under the “Oh my God, that could have been me” side of the list.
Though I’m pretty sure I never actually consciously thought that I was immune to horrible tragedies. I mean I’m of average intelligence and that is really not logical but being a Christian and fully believing in the goodness of God and the power of prayer I was somehow lulled into a false sense of security. Maybe it was simply because it made life a little less scary and slightly easier to deal with. But that is one example of those things that you can’t undo. Like I said about being unable to go back and be five years old again. I cannot go back to the innocence of believing ever again that I am safe and protected from anything. Anything that the world has to throw at me without limits – can be my fate at the drop of a hat. Instead of being immune to these things; I now feel like I have a target painted on my forehead.
I think it is human nature to look for things that make the evils of this world make some sort of sense, or perhaps we look for something that may give the illusion of having control over what happens to you. To feel that everything is just “random” is a scary thing.
Like in the book of Job, when all of the tragedies that literally destroyed his life came on him; his friends, instead of comforting him, wanted to make the tragedies somehow justified by his own actions – I think it is human nature to believe that when you are inherently “good” or you do good deeds or you try and help people and you are not cruel or selfish or dishonest --that you will be spared the really horrific things life has to throw at you and if you are dishonest, intentionally hurtful, self-centered and cold – that those are the ones that suffer horrific loss. This is both a logical assumption and a safety net of sorts. It gives you the impression that you have some semblance of control over how much bad comes into your life. However, If you are familiar with the book of Job then you already know not only was that NOT at all the case but God reprimanded Job’s friends for their assumption that Job had done wrong and was being punished for it. Just like we jump to the conclusion like Job’s friends that when horrific things happen to someone that it is somehow their fault or repayment for some un-repented sin; we also believe the opposite is true if we are basically a good person we can somehow avoid the horrors of this world. I think Job was as confused by the outcome of things as his friends were and frankly the book of Job has never quite set well with me and that would be because I believe it is human nature to feel that good should be rewarded with good and evil with evil but the truth is, just like in the book of Job, that is not the way the world works. Good and evil falls on all of us just like the rain. And our belief in how we feel it should fairly happen is really our desire to be able to control what happens in our world.
But, we are not in control. Never have been. Never will be. And just because evil has not yet touched your life – it does not mean:
A – That you are all good or that being good will ward it off
B - That you are immune to such horrific tragedies or
C - That it never will.
I learned that the hard way along with a lot of other things that the school of grief has taught me. Like, I am stronger than I ever thought I was. That what you think would absolutely kill you – does not – no matter how much you wish it would. Your life can be forever changed with one phone call. And there really is no security in life this side of Heaven.