Yesterday, a friend of mine posed this question on his Facebook status: Why does bad stuff happen to good people and good stuff happen to bad people. It has him questioning his faith. I know it’s made a lot of people question their faith. It’s a question I pondered on a lot when I was younger. Back in the days when bad things would happen to me and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
I hit a point in my life where I stopped asking, “why” and started asking, “why not?” Strange question to ask you might be thinking. It started near the end college when I was very involved in my church and we had started something like a young leaders group where we took turns preparing a Bible study. I took a special interest in researching the subject of overcoming. Overcoming obstacles. Overcoming bad things. Overcoming. I still have my notes in a file. It was a true labor of love and maybe one day I’ll pull them out and write in detail what I presented.
My interest in overcoming came from cumulative experiences in my life I had up to that point. I wrote several weeks back about how my home life was less than stellar before moving out for college, including a bout of depression, possibly several. I survived those years, but I was just surviving, not overcoming. I hadn’t learned to really deal with bad situations and I faced the biggest one after starting college.
My first few weeks in college, I met a lot of athletes going to various parties. Football players, swimmers, divers, tennis players, basketball players, etc. In fact, the majority of my friends that first year were athletes. I can’t even remember where I met one in particular, but he would be the bane of my existence for many years. He was a football player. First year, too, from Ohio. I remember that much about him, and his first name, which I won’t mention. He was friends with some of my neighbors in the dorm, too. I should mention that my first year I was in an all female dorm so there were a lot of rules about guys and all the doors were locked at night. My roommate happened to be gone one weekend and out of fear of locking myself out in the middle of the night, I left my door unlocked. The building was locked, right? Wrong. This “friend” got into the dorm, up to our floor and into my room. I was a pretty heavy sleeper back then and don’t even remember him coming into my room. In fact, I was hardly awake enough to be able to tell him to “stop.” I was paralyzed. I felt like I was in a nightmare and couldn’t move. He eventually left. I waited for a bit before I got up. He was in my neighbor’s room watching TV. I wound up taking a shower and when my neighbor came out, I whispered to her what happened. What she said to me was pretty much that I must be mistaken because he didn’t do anything to her.
It took a while, but I wound up going through another depressive period. This time I was more aware of it and did what I could to combat it. I prayed nightly for God to help me through the next day. Again, just surviving. I went through the motions and with the help of my Big Brothers, I was out doing things rather than holed up in my room. I owe a lot to them for that. There were nights they forced me to go out even if I didn’t want to.
Several years later, I wound up picking up a stalker who happened to be in two of my psych classes. One was a large lecture class, the other a much smaller class…400 level where we were supposed to get more attention from the professors. I lived in fear that he would actually try something. He had my number and called a lot. To the point where I let the answering machine get it so I could screen my calls. I carried something in my hand around campus in case he tried to accost me. I was rather hypervigilant.
Going through bad stuff is not easy. Not at all. In the moment, all you want is to be somewhere else other than were you are. There is no pleasantness in the experience at all. We all know what it feels like. I can still feel those emotions as if it were yesterday. However, I’m a different person now. I know there was purpose for it, even if it was bad. I know that whatever comes my way, there will be a lesson or a growth that comes from it.
It’s not an easy perspective to have or to even explain to others. I could be in a much different place than where I am now if I did not walk away with the lessons or growth. Why did it happen? I don’t know why. I do know that because of those experiences, I was much more careful. Yes, hypervigilant at first. But as that wore off, I was just more aware. Of course, I didn’t leave my dorm room unlocked at night ever again. Would it have been better if it had never happened? Maybe. But, I wouldn’t be the same person either. I believe that we are the sum of our experiences. That things do happen for a reason even if we can’t see that reason in the moment. I know that it just is. Maybe a bit zen, but I think it’s something that Christians miss. God is a parent letting his children grow. Part of that growth is allowing them to make their own choices like our birth/adoptive parents do for us. I look at it this way, even though he’s all-powerful, he plays the parent and doesn’t save us from every thing that happens to us. If He did that, we’d be sheltered. We’d never know the other side of the coin. We have to know what the bad times are like in order to appreciate all the good we have.
If it weren’t for those experiences I’ve had in my life, I wouldn’t appreciate the good family members I have. I wouldn’t appreciate all the good relationships with men I have and have had. I wouldn’t appreciate where I am now. I wouldn’t be who I am now. I joke about having to learn to fight back from the times my uncles would pick on me. That is just a piece of it. God gave me more strength through every experience and I am thankful for that. For everything.
Yes, the world would be a wonderful place if we never had bad things happen to us. If that were true, it wouldn’t be life at all. It would be Heaven. I for one, would rather be living in the here and now with the good, the bad, and the ugly and not trade any of my experiences. I can wait for Heaven.