I believe that, you know, that “everything happens for a reason.” I know the outlook is to tell yourself, “this is SUPPOSED to happen to me. this is the plan. i was meant to go through this.” – but that’s not always true. I don’t think EVERYTHING is SUPPOSED to happen. I mean, good things can’t happen all the time, I know. Religion has taught me we cannot know joy without knowing misery (Adam and Eve). Opposites are necessary. There has to be bad to have good – dark for light – you get the point. Bad things will happen at some point. It’s inevitable. However, I don’t believe that everything happens because it’s your fate.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Agency. It’s not always because it was supposed to happen that way. We all have our agency, and how we choose to use it – our decisions – create our own circumstances and often affect those of others too (overlooking natural disasters and events of that nature, of course – those aren’t our decisions). Knowing the nature of humans though, often bad decisions are made and they can affect many people. The same way that changing one’s attitude, perception, or reaction to something can change things completely too from good to bad or vice versa.
As a Christian, I know God has a plan for each and every one of us. I also know that plan is not a set trajectory we are forced to follow. There is one He would like us to follow, but it depends on our decisions. God’s not going to force us to do anything because he loves us and wants us to learn and grow on our own – even if that does include heartache.
I believe that due to our choices and the choices of others, things happen that weren’t part of what God would have liked us to go through. I’m not saying we cannot take our life experiences and use them to learn and grow from – we definitely should. I just believe we don’t ALWAYS find ourselves in situations that were “pre-destined” to be ours. Some people, however, and some life events I do think are “pre-destined” to happen – but not all of it. I feel God is always there, leading us through life, and when we make a wrong turn, He will help us learn from it and rearrange the path ahead of us according to our choices and ever-changing needs. I believe He will always look for ways to bless us and help us regardless of our decisions – we just still may be too blind to see it or may choose to always go the other way. So yeah, sometimes we unnecessarily suffer from choices. That’s to say that not everything is needed and supposed to happen – it’s all about decisions. I really don’t believe that the alcoholic who makes it through rehab and then later returns to his vice and finishes out his life alone and unhappy was SUPPOSED to go through that his whole life. No one is supposed to be miserable, it’s a choice we make. With our agency we can change things at any moment.
So I guess “everything happens for a reason” shouldn’t be looked at as settling for circumstances as your fate — But think “what is the reason that caused this to happen?” Yes, some situations could have been avoided had we or someone else chosen differently. Things COULD have played out differently. That’s not to say we should live in regret – just resolve to learn from it and go on. Make the future better not bitter. It can make you or break you. It’s part of the experience. Not everything needs to happen how it does, but God will find a way to fit pieces back together for our greater good – as long as we try to do the same. Learn and grow.