Lesson or gift?

May 21, 2015

when-bad-things-happenNot too long ago I posted a piece in which I talked about the gift in misfortunes–ours or those of others.

Some readers got the meaning and intention behind the thought, especially those that had faced difficult circumstances, like debilitating diseases, terrible losses and other things that none of us would like to have happen, if we had a choice. Most of them? Saw the lesson or gift in their situation.

Others pushed back, with comments such as:

“I don’t like to think that the misfortunes of others are a gift for me.”

“There’s no way that something bad happening to someone else could be a gift.”

It was as if the act of finding something good or useful in a pile of shiz was a bad thing, when in fact, it’s one of the most beautiful outcomes of falling into shiz that could occur.

When bad things happen, our choices are to be depressed, to complain, to pretend it’s not happening, to be bitter… or to look for the lesson. That lesson could be for us or for those around us. Or both.

What, you think bad things are random events?  If that’s your belief–that we are subject to the “luck of the draw,”  then I can see how it would be hard to look for anything positive in a pile of shiz.

I just don’t happen to believe that what happens to us is random. I see the hand of the Divine in all of it, and if the Divine gives us something, we’re meant to learn from it.

I’m reminded of a Mary Oliver poem that applies so well.

when-bad-things-happenBut don’t take my word for it.  Or Mary Oliver’s.

One of my friends, Cathy Chester,  has written about the gifts that came from her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, either way.

21 comments on “Lesson or gift?
  1. Ali Davies says:

    I am a big believer that when the brown stuff hits the fan, there is always an opportunity lurking in there somewhere!

  2. No one escapes some misfortune, no matter how big or small. Perhaps, as you say, the Divine has a hand in it. Who knows. I do think it’s important is to hold kindness, compassion and patience in our hearts for each another. Only then are we able to lift each other up as best as we can through both good times and bad.

    Thanks for referencing my post, Carol. I truly appreciate it.

  3. I have found that the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with in my life have made me a kinder, more understanding person. Well, most of them. A few have just really pissed me off 🙂

  4. Oh yes- there are ‘gifts’ wrapped in bad bows all around us. While I do believe in the ‘randomness’ of events, I also believe finding the hidden silver-lining is one of Life’s secrets to happiness. Love that poem!

  5. Jennifer says:

    I try to find the lessons in the crap that happens to and around me. I think that’s how we grow as humans. If we feel like vicitms, we will be.

  6. Joan says:

    HI Carol, This is a thought-provoking post…It is (very) difficult to attempt to “make sense” when devastation occurs in our journey. As a 50-something woman, MANY things have happened to both me and those in my sphere of influence, sudden death, significant illness, horrible accidents, and much more. It has become my belief that once the “horribleness” of an event has been acknowledged, it is a good thing, to then ask “What next?” while keeping our eyes and ears wide open for guidance from our faith and supportive humans. LIFE is still happening, even in dark circumstances. I like this Mary Oliver poem-short, but chock-full of wisdom!
    I look forward to following Cathy’s post and I agree with the above comments, especially Sharon: “A few have really pissed me off!”

    joanwpage.com : Pages From Joan

  7. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I definitely think everything happens for a reason. I think bad things happen so we can learn from them.r

  8. Sandy says:

    Yes, there is always a lesson in the negative things that happen. You just have to find it!

  9. Haralee says:

    I have tried to learn from misfortunes that I have had because I can’t imagine being bitter forever and not reap something positive from the experience.
    I do not believe that you are only given what you can handle and the other adage that everything happens for a reason.

  10. Jeanine says:

    I think everything happens for a reason but most times I have no idea what those reasons are. I’ve had some pretty bad things happen and I still don’t get it.

  11. penpen says:

    Growth is never easy. Looking for the lesson in the set back sure beats a pity party. thanks for the reminder.

  12. Diane says:

    I have always believed that our purpose here on earth is to learn and grow stronger. If we didn’t have something to overcome, we quite simply wouldn’t do either of those things. Like exercising a muscle. Albeit a muscle we hate and really wish would just exercise itself . . .

  13. I absolutely believe everything that happens to us good or bad, happens for a reason and it is up to us to learn what the reason is. It isn’t always easy to look for the good while feeling devastated. It can take some time to find it but I believe it is almost always there.

  14. Laurel Regan says:

    I believe there is something to be learned from any situation, good or bad… if our eyes are open and our spirits are willing. Not always easy, though. 🙂

  15. Liz Mays says:

    I’m never able to see the lesson in the moment. It’s just too raw, but I can always see it clearly on the other side.

  16. Ruth Curran says:

    I love that Mary Oliver poem so much — what a nice dream!

  17. Britney says:

    Everything happens for a reason I think! This is pretty interesting to think about!

  18. Alana says:

    I sometimes wonder if what happens to us in life, and how we respond, is a way to prepare ourselves for our roles in the afterlife. In other words, everything is an opportunity to learn; everything happens for a reason. When I look at everything that has happened to a good friend of mine, as one example, I wonder if she signed up for the equivalent of afterlife Navy Seal training. Why else does it seem that some people have misfortune after misfortune piled on them? If there was no reason, and life was totally random, then all of life is a cruel joke played on us by a sadistic creator. I don’t believe that.

  19. katrina g says:

    we pray. we are going through a hard time now (like so many others) and praying is getting us day to day.

  20. When my brother in law passed away, a few people said God doesn’t give you more than you can handle which made me quite angry. I don’t think He is bestowing pain on us. I don’t think those that are weak are having blessed lives while those of us who strong will have painful lessons. Unfortunately we have free will to do stupid things.

  21. Debi says:

    I always try to find the lesson in the misfortune. It is hard sometimes but I know good can come out of anything. I try to remember that my bad experience may be able to help someone in the future and many times that has certainly been the case. Thanks for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!

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