An interesting thought flitted through my mind the other day while I was sitting on the sofa trying to recover from an attack of jabbing pain in my head. This often happens – getting an interesting thought after that kind of pain -and sometimes I wonder if the pain jars some rock of creativity loose.
On this particular day, my mind started wrangling with the difference between simple coincidence and the working of a Supreme Being in our lives. Some Evangelical Christians believe that God has a detailed plan for how our future is to play out, and we just need to follow the path that He or She has laid out before us. Churches that embrace the theology of Calvinism are firm believers in that kind of plan.
John Calvin, the father of Calvinism, wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536), a theological study that came out during the reform movement. He believed in the doctrine of predestination, and his interpretations of Christian teachings are followed by many Reformed churches today, although they may not all still hold to the belief that God has chosen some people to go to heaven and the others to go to hell.
While we Roman Catholics were not taught that strict sense of God’s plan, we were presented with a God who is nothing like the God I’ve become more comfortable with in my old age. As a child, I stood in fear of Him who would punish little girls for the slightest indiscretion, and I fully bought into the premise that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. In catechism classes, we were taught to behave and to pray, because God rewards good little girls and boys. Because I had a rather difficult childhood, I had a hard time seeing any of the rewards that had been promised to me.
Fast forward a lot of years of trying to figure this all out, sometimes giving God the middle finger. (It’s okay. She has broad shoulders.:-)) And then I found the book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It totally changed my thinking. No longer did I picture God as sitting up there in heaven on a cloud with a computer, giggling as She selected some people for good things and others for some kind of calamity.
God created us because She loves us. Would she really wish bad things for some of us?
As Rabbi Kushner says, “Stuff just happens.” Not in those words, but close to it. Because God gave us free will, Her only role in this bad stuff scenario is to be there to give us strength and support when we need it. And sometimes a miracle. Yes, I do believe in miracles. What I don’t believe in is that some people will get the miracle because they are good, while the person who does not get it is bad.
I cover some of this topic in more detail in a chapter in my latest book, The Many Faces of Grief, but what I don’t mention there is this weird connection my brain made the other day about how focusing on the positive can create an atmosphere of positivity. I have a friend on Twitter who always posts uplifting comments and celebrates everyone. Here’s her Twitter bio: I’m from planet Positivity! I share Truth, Justice and the Pirate way! I have powerful optimistic fun traits! I surround myself with SuperHeroes!
If you’re on Twitter, I encourage you to follow her. Her name is Jodo. Like her, I believe that adopting habits of thinking positively can create an atmosphere of hopefulness and an attitude of “can do” as opposed to “I can’t.” And maybe that attitude helps us create good things in our lives, totally independent of a God playing pinball with our futures.
Now for some Friday Fun. The following is from The Laugh Factory. Enjoy…
Two guys are standing in line to enter heaven. One turned around and asked the other how he died. “I froze to death. How about you?”
“I had a heart attack.”
“How did that happen?”
“Well, I suspected my wife was cheating on me. So after work I went straight home. I ran upstairs to find my wife sleeping by herself. Then I ran back downstairs and looked in all the hiding spots. When I was running back up the stairs, I had a heart attack.”
“If you would’ve looked in the fridge, we’d both be alive.”
An Amish husband, wife, and son travel to the city on vacation. They visit a shopping mall and while the mother is shopping, the father and son are standing in awe in front of an elevator (having no idea what it is). As they watch, an elderly lady walks into the strange silver doors and the doors close.
The father and son watch as the numbers go up, and then back down. When the doors open, a beautiful young woman walks out. The father leans over and whispers to the son, “Quick, go get your mother!”
That’s it for today folks. I do hope you have a good weekend. More rain is predicted for NE Texas for today, Saturday, and Sunday, so I’ll be inside most of the time. Hopefully, I’ll get a lot done on the quilt I’ve been working on for a while now.