It all works for good.
Even if those who have never read a page in the Bible are familiar with at least a paraphrased version of this popular verse.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8: 28 KJV
Is it true?
Do we really know that all things work together for good? All as in the good, the bad, and the ugly?
Is there really a purpose in everything that happens?
Everything happens for a reason
I’m sure you’ve heard that.
Maybe you’ve even reassured yourself or someone else using these words…
And yet, it seems like it would take an insurmountable faith to believe these simple statement amidst the inevitable storms of life.
Or maybe it’s hope you need.
I think a clue to this mystery is found on another verse in the New Testament:
In every thing give thanks… ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
Can you be grateful for everything?
It goes without saying that it’s easy to feel grateful when we get or experience what we want and things go our way.
Sometimes, of course, we don’t choose to be grateful for the good, because we forget and take it for granted. Instead, we focus on what we don’t have.
It’s easy to become bitter, jealous or envious when we focus on lack, wants, or needs, rather than on counting the blessings we do have.
When we are intentional about being grateful for the good, it’s easier to find the good, or as I like to call it “the Hand of God” in our lives.
When something bad happens, we experience what we call negative emotions: anxiety, anger, fear… It’s the normal reaction.
There are times where I’m sure you’ve felt gratitude in retrospective. I can relate to that.
In hindsight, I can see how something I perceived as bad happened turns into something I can be grateful for because it has taught me a valuable lesson, purified me and sculpted me into a much better, wiser, happier person, or even saved me from greater pain in some way.
I think what may be harder than being grateful for the hurt is to actually feel grateful for the so-called “bad person” who hurt me. Do you find that to be true for you?
I was meditating about this after I found what seems to be a poem about “haters” [chuckles] that was very revealing to me:
To those of you who have pushed me –
Without you I wouldn’t have fallen.
To those of you who laughed at me –
Without you I wouldn’t have cried.
To those who spoke ill of me and wished the worst for me-
Without you I wouldn’t have worked so hard to prove you wrong.
To those of you who just couldn’t love me –
Without you I wouldn’t have been determined to seek and find real love.
To those of you who hurt my feelings –
Without you I wouldn’t have felt them.
To those of you who left me lonely –
Without you I wouldn’t have discovered myself.
But it is to those of you who thought I couldn’t do it
It is you I thank the most
Because without you I wouldn’t have tried!
This was written in an old notebook of mine. I must have copied this from a book or magazine, since I wrote this before my Internet days.
It’s good to see that doing things to prove myself is not a motivator for me anymore, and that I no longer believe that people have that kind of power over me or my destiny. Glad to see some progress.
However, it is true that, just like the Tin Man says in The Wizard of Oz, to know your own heart, sometimes it takes some breakage.
Even when you’re on a mission to choose the company you keep wisely, infiltration occurs because we attract that which and those who will compel us to heal.
You know what I always say: Even Eagles Need A Push To Soar.
I’m going to say that the hardest category to be grateful for is the ugly things we experience.
If we’re going to be real here, we can admit that we all can get offended, frustrated or irritated, and feel insulted for some petty little things.
We can even harbor grudges for made up lies based on perception or projection. An experience I had last year with a student comes to mind.
I was spending a ridiculous amount of time helping one of my students. I poured out my heart and gave her all the solicited advice I could afford.
Between going through sexual trauma, loss of income (due to my high risk pregnancy) and health issues (due to injury and birth complications), I set some needed boundaries with the sole purpose of self-preservation.
She lashed out at me and made me out to be the bad guy because of how she felt. I did nothing I professionally wouldn’t do, and my teaching and training style or my personal situation was the same for all students – it has nothing to do with her – or her worth.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Eleanor Roosevelt’s most famous quote: No one can make anyone feel inferior without consent.
I always tell my daughters that all feelings are valid, but we must ask whether they are helpful or hurtful. After we have asked this, we can make a conscious choice moving forward.
I absolutely love this student. I know she’s a great woman and mom and she’s got a special place in my heart.
But, I have in deed chosen to distance myself for a while because I am responsible for my words, my actions, and my energy, I refuse to be held accountable for someone else’s feelings.
With everything I’m going through right now, struggling to stay sane, healthy, and safe, I cannot volunteer myself to participate in stressful interactions and situations.
I guess the main takeaway for you and I is that it hurts to let others pick your brain, and to stop discounting your value. This is working for my good in how I’m structuring my courses now.
The UGLY is not about talking someone cuts you off in traffic or when someone ignores your text (or phone call, in my particular case).
We’re talking about those things that break your heart, that feel unforgivable, that feel like will always be unfair.
Maybe you’re struggling with the hurt of deceit, breakup, or betrayal. I know just how these experiences can truly depressing, discouraging, and enraging.
And what about the irreversible, inexplicable, inescapable pain of losing a pregnancy, burying your own child, the trauma of abuse? Just to name a few.
In your own life, what has been hard to heal?
What has been hard to forgive?
What is an event in your life you can’t possibly imagine being grateful for?
And it’s not that I’m grateful FOR everything. It’s being grateful IN everything, because we have faith that someday, in some way, it will make sense, and you will find some good in it.
I was so depressed when my grandpa passed through the veil of this mortal life 11 years ago this month. I was sick and couldn’t attend his funeral, and I was all alone, because I couldn’t take care of my daughters while in treatment.
But now I’m grateful to be a survivor. I’m grateful that my daughters were able to get to know my grandpa.
Though I can’t see him, hug him, and learn from him anymore, I can still feel his presence in my life, honor his memory, and amplify his legacy.
These two gifts are not easily cultivated, especially when you’re in the middle of the struggle.
It’s hard to see how what makes you feel broken is going to work for your good, and uh, gratitude may just be the last thing you feel. It’s a difficult choice, but a choice, nonetheless.
So, you ask again, is it true that it all works for good?
Well, I believe that. And believing is more helpful than it is hurtful. It helps me feel greater peace, experience more joy, trust the process, and stay strong.
Does everything work together for good? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.