Everything does happen for a reason

November 13, 2015

We are stardust.The other day I read a long diatribe against the concept that “everything happens for a reason.” The writer railed on about how there is no reason for bad things happening, that the entire concept of ” a reason” is a blame-the-victim attitude, and on and on.

It got under my skin a bit, because I don’t see it that way at all. As far as I am concerned, everything DOES happen for a reason.

It doesn’t mean we need to like it.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight it.
It doesn’t mean we can’t grieve.
It doesn’t mean it’s our “fault.”

Let me explain.

It’s like the virgin birth. Only not.

“Everything happens for reason” is a spiritual belief, in the same way that faithful believe in the virgin birth, in heaven, and other faith-related things.

“Everything happens for a reason” comes from the belief that every soul has a purpose and a plan, and that there’s a lesson in the things that happen to us.  The lesson may be for us, for someone around us or even for someone we have never met.

A perfect case in point is poet and peacemaker, Mattie Stepanek, who was born with an rare, incurable and debilitating form of muscular dystrophy.  By anyone’s definition, this young man was dealt a terrible hand. He died when he was only 13. And yet, in Mattie’s short life, he made a huge impact on millions of people he’d never met. A short video that illustrates the essence of his soul is HERE.

In my belief structure, which includes reincarnation, these life plans are made by souls between lives with the agreement of all concerned. Memory is wiped clean before birth so we may live out the lesson. The foundation of this belief is that there is something greater than us directing what happens at the macro-level. Our soul is expected to grow and mature from these experiences, no matter what they are, even if (and especially if) we are here to be of service to others.

We don’t have to “take responsibility” if bad things happen, we simply have to be attuned enough to recognize the lesson. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s for us and sometimes not.

It is never OUR FAULT. Not at all.

The idea of “choice” can be…horrifying.

I do understand the…perversion…of the everything happens for a reason line of thought. When I first heard the idea that we chose our own parents, our families, I was horrified. I would NEVER choose what I got, I thought.

And then, slowly, over decades, I began to firm up my own spiritual beliefs and to understand the concept of soul plans and how they are lived out.

I’m not sure where it came from, but there seems to be some kind of belief that only good things should happen in life. That’s just not realistic.  Of course, you can think of the awful things that happen as random bad luck or evil. Or you can look at them as having a greater purpose. I am well aware of how hard that is in so many cases. And yet, it is what I’ve come to believe.

So, let us not pervert the belief in a soul plan into something that includes “blame” or victimization. That’s not it at all.

Here’s how I think it works:

Instead, look around for whose soul growth might be impacted by a specific situation.

Is it the daughter caring for her dementia-stricken mother who is learning compassion and unconditional love?

Is it the son supporting his father through chemotherapy who is learning the limits to what he can control?

Is it the mother who has given all her life and now, as an invalid, is learning to take?

Where is the lesson? And who’s it for?

I welcome your thoughts, whether they agree or not. There’s potential for great discussion in the Comments and I’m hoping to see that. Thank you.

23 comments on “Everything does happen for a reason
  1. my spiritual philosophy is a little different to yours Carol, but I think we have a similar take on this subject. We can’t live our lives based just on light and fluffiness, bad and sad stuff happens and we can learn and grow and develop our selves and our souls by how we handle those situations. I’d like to think that is how wisdom comes to us 🙂

  2. Thank you for a thoughtful essay. It’s a fascinating subject, and I quite agree with your philosophy. But like any spiritual belief, this discussion takes on a different caste when it is conveyed to someone who is suffering. Then, when we hope to offer comfort, instead we inadvertently come across as preachers.

  3. Hi Carol:
    I completely understand where you are coming from and I like to believe in a similar way, but when something so devastating happens, like my best friend’s only daughter died in a car accident, I find it difficult to simply say this is your life lesson…. Some occurrences are so traumatic they are beyond words or comprehension.

  4. I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I believe that some things are and somethings are random. Its not for me to know which are which. It is for me to learn from everything though.

  5. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I believe we can find life lessons in what fate hands us sometimes, but not always. Senseless, random crimes that lead to tragedy and loss are occurrences that teach us nothing except for the mistake of being at the wrong place at the wrong time .

  6. pia says:

    I think (hope) most people don’t want “light and fluffy” all or most or much of the time. But I can’t believe that holocausts happen because good must be taught, and the same for other horrible things. Or that there is any good reason for many horrible things that happen. A little rain falling into each life–that’s something different.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I believe things are put before us as life lessons to help us grow. Karma plays a role, and that too is a lesson.
    Anyone expecting life to be all fluff and fun is living in a bubble, or on some very good drugs.

  8. I am still trying to firm up my beliefs after having religion shoved down my throat for so long that I finally vomited. I do believe that this isn’t my first run through life and that the people who mean the most shared those times with me or at least a few. I also believe that when the bad things happen and you don’t find something to learn from it that it has been a wasted opportunity. I guess maybe I’m just simple minded because I believe strongly in karma. If you put good out there you will receive good back, although that certainly doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to you, only that you will find the tools you need to deal with each one as it comes.

  9. Anca says:

    I don’t think that everything happens for a reason. It affects us and I think even the bad things (maybe the bad are even most important) can help us evolve.

  10. Everything that happens happens for a reason? I just cannot get my arms around that, I mean, what about the Holocaust and plane crashes and other random things? 220 people who had it in their life plan got on the plane that was going down?

  11. Toni McCloe says:

    A beautiful post. I couldn’t agree more.

  12. Hi Carol! I think you already know that you and I share a LOT of similar beliefs so I don’t need to go into all that here. (Much more fun over a glass of wine in Vegas don’t you think?) But I must confess that when I stay your graphic for this post my first thought was “We are golden..” and doesn’t that just say so much too? ~Kathy

  13. Great post. I agree that everything happens for a reason although it can be tough to see why at the time.

    Allison Jones

  14. I am a woman of faith, so I don’t believe in reincarnation, although I do think some of us are “old souls,” and I don’t know how to explain that one. The Bible says God “refines” just us as a gold or silversmith refines and purifies the metals they work with. Our trials and tribulations of life are the essence of that refining. The purpose of our problems may very well be to be an example for others, like Mattie Stepanek. Both he and his mother are examples of people who dealt with such terrible life blows with grace and maturity and gave all of us hope and pause for thought. Whether it’s due to reincarnation or not, I have no doubt both of them are meant for better times. xoxox, Brenda

  15. Carolann says:

    This is a tough one to swallow. I’m sure how I feel about believing this premise. There are times when I feel there is a lesson from everything that happens in life, and other times I feel it’s just a case of bad things happen to good people for simply no reason at all. Much to think about for sure!

  16. It’s a super complex topic. I think some things just happen as they are supposed to but not that there is some plan behind it or grand reason we will ever understand. It just is such is life

  17. Kimberly says:

    Carol, you and I are on exactly the same page. Isn’t that interesting? One of my favorite phrases is “Life is lessons.”
    Kimberly XO

  18. I believe that positive things can result from tragedies, but I don’t think anyone who has just lost a child would want to hear that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ I just read the book of Job and all of his friends tried to convince him he had lost everything for a reason. I agree lessons can emerge from bad circumstances, but I still don’t believe that is why the event occurred. I do believe God has a bigger picture and like what Paul said: 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV): For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

  19. Haralee says:

    I can’t get onboard the everything happens for a reason philosophy. I think there are some choices and a lot of making the best of a situation or not. What really irks me is the philosophy of you are given as much as you can handle. I don’t buy that either. Sorry Carol, I sound like an old grump!

  20. Donna says:

    First I would like to thank you for providing a safe forum where we can share our beliefs (and it was so interesting to read what people believe) without fearing recrimination. There are a great many aspects of beliefs we share. I also believe everything happens for a reason. I have to believe that because going through something really hard for nothing seems very uneconomical. And the one thing I know God is the essence of economy. He can teach a hundred lessons with one experience. And maybe some of those lessons come to us years later. Most of the foundations for diseases are formed because of a family members illness. That is just one positive from a difficult situation. Although I don’t believe in reincarnation I believe in something close to that. I feel we have always lived, in a first “estate” we were taught everything. But as Carol says and I agree those memories are wiped clean, so that we can act for ourselves. I believe God will not force you to do anything, he gives us the power to choose. The reason all of us chafe at being forced to do anything is because it is literally against our DNA. Parents sometimes force religion on their children out of fear, it is unfortunate because that is not God’s way. We are free to choose. And sometimes people choose horrible things, they choose to murder, steal, or any of the other million ways we can hurt each other. We, of course, can also choose to do amazing things. I also believe that God knows everything that will happen to us, and why not? He is a very big God….and since He only wants the best for us He has planted solutions to our problems all along the way. Often we choose to find those solutions, but sometimes we get angry, or afraid, and it is very hard to see those solutions. Being peaceful and humble puts us in a place to recieve direction and counsel. Recently a dear friend lost his son in a auto accident. He was such a good boy, only 20. It made no sense..my friend was inconsolable, He kept praying to be forgiven…He felt he had done something wrong. And then after several days of prayer and introspection he heard a voice say, “of course you are forgiven” and that was followed by the most amazing feeling of peace he has ever known. He still misses his wonderful son of course, but that horrible pain has been replaced by a feeling of peace. He also knows his son is doing a work he couldn’t do here. another part of my belief is we continue learning as we go from earth life to a world of spirits. we don’t lounge on clouds, we learn, we teach, we watch over those here still on earth. Our lives have purpose, always. And I know there is a plan…

  21. Mimi Rose says:

    Really intriguing post! I’ve realized in the past few years that everything does in fact happen for a reason, and it was interesting reading you break down what that actually means to you with your personal beliefs. Thanks for such an enlightening write-up! 🙂

  22. I’m an agnostic atheist so I sort of agree with what you are saying, just without the spiritual side of it. I don’t agree that everything happens for a reason as that would mean it’s all pre-determined which is something I don’t believe, but I do agree that you can – and should for the sake of personal growth – choose find lessons in the positive and negative things that happen in everyday life 🙂

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