Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sometimes, You Need to Think About What You Are Saying

A good friend of mine, who spends each April mourning her mother, sent me this email:

My cubemate's husband was in a horrific motorcycle accident on Sunday, and airlifted to Indy. Turns out, he didn't break anything or have any internal bleeding, just cuts and bruises, especially to his face (he went through his motorcycle's windshield). So he was REALLY REALLY LUCKY. And I'm very happy for her that he was - they're a lovely couple and they have big hearts and are just...they're very nice.
But all morning, as she has recounted (over and over AND OVER) for coworkers what happened, the conversation never fails to turn into THIS:
"Well, God must have big plans for him...."
You know what? I get that it was scary and that your faith made the whole thing easier for you, and that you feel fortunate (and maybe even survivor's guilt) that it turned out SO WELL and EVERYONE I work with is just SO READY to also believe it wasn't anything but blind luck. I get it. I do. And that's fine. You're entitled to believe that and take comfort in it.
Guess their god didn't have any big plans for my Mom.

That last line kills me. It kills me because I can picture her head tilting forward a little bit in sadness, her voice thickening up with tears, and that unspoken sentence afterwards: My mom, whom I love all my heart, who was my first love, who I really, really need right now, just wasn't special, huh?

I get it. None of her coworkers are trying to make my friend cry, none of them are trying to say that her mom wasn't special, and likely all of them would be at least embarrassed upon hearing what her thoughts on that are. They're not trying to be hurtful, they just are.

The fact of the matter is, if God saves some, then he kills others. If he has "special plans" for some, then he does't have any plans for others. And what makes this guy so much more worthy than my friend's mom, or all the people who died in the tsunami in Japan, or in Indonesia or in New Orleans or in the Holocaust or at Hiroshima? Those people, I guess, just weren't special enough for God.

The little sparrow in the field is special to God, it says so right in the Bible, but no my friend's mom. This guy on a motorcycle is so special!, but not the children who die of abuse and neglect and disease and starvation and war. They're not special. Just the sparrow and this guy on a motorcycle.

Really, this is an image of God, up there in Heaven, looking down on us saying, "this one, not that one, her child, but not your mother, him, but not you . . ."

That is so much more comforting than no god at all? Really?


  1. Yeah, I totally get that. I spent years trying to make sense of bad things that happen, saying this thing or that must just be in God's plan. All I can say is, if things that happen are in God's plan, his plan sucks! You'd think an omnipotent, omnicient, omni-present God could do better.

  2. I read this, and it made me sad.

    Made me think especially of a guy I knew at school, who died of meningitis aged 17. He was friendly, easy going, intelligent and a pretty good musician. If there were a God, and he didn't have any special plans for Doug, why the hell not? I can think of a hundred and one things he could have done, and I'm not omniscient.

  3. my favorite thing about my religion?

    there isn't "God's Plan".

    there's MY plan.

    religiously, i "know" that before i started this life, i mapped it. all the bad things are there to teach me things i need to know, as are the good things. it's all MY plan - and maybe it was a bad plan, because i didn't understand HOW BAD some of this shit was going to be, but it was MY PLAN.

    that makes it... not "better", per se, but not WORSE like all that "GOd's Plan" bullshit. hearing that GOD wanted me to live in Hell for most of my life is rage-inducing; hearing that i set this up for myself, that i felt i needed to learn something and this is the way to do it, is less rage-inducing [still some, of the "what the FUCK was i thinking?!" variety, but no where NEAR as much] and actually sort of hopeful - i can pick a better life next time.

    that probably made zero sense to anyone else.

  4. Great post. I totally agree. My grandmother dedicated her whole life to her God, her religion and her family. And God's "plan" was to have her die in agony and without dignity. Classy guy!


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