Yesterday, after my morning prayer & meditation, I wrote down a passage from “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck. I wrote it down to share with a group of people I would be speaking to that afternoon. The passage is dialog between little Eddie, the main character, and his mother. Eddie is upset about his fathers recent death and not getting the bike he wanted for Christmas. Below is what I wrote on a piece of paper and shoved in the back pocket of my jeans.
Page 108 of The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
“I know that things have been hard since Dad died. But it’s been hard for both of us. At some point you have to realize that everything happens for a reason. It is up to you to find that reason, learn from it, and let it take you to the place you’re supposed to be—not just where you have ended up.” “…you can either complain about how hard your life is, or you can realize that only you are responsible for it. You get to choose: Am I going to be happy or miserable? And nothing—not a sweater, and certainly not a bike—will ever change that.”
What a powerful message: “At some point you have to realize that everything happens for a reason. It is up to you to find that reason, learn from it, and let it take you to the place you’re supposed to be—not just where you have ended up.”
I didn’t share this passage during my speech, I forgot. But after speaking, a women approached me with tears in her eyes. She told me about her son who had recently committed suicide. I told her I was sorry, gave her a hug and then remembered the sheet of paper in my back pocket. I pulled it out and handed it to her.
Some say that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. I don’t think it has to be, but it certainly is a great motivator. To learn and grow from something I have to accept it no matter how painful it is. However, accepting something means taking responsibility for it, and if I’m responsible, I have to do something about it. That can be hard. It’s also important to remember that just because I accept something, does not mean I have to like it. By accepting it, I am able to learn from it and move into becoming a survivor instead of victim.
I’ve never lost a child, but I hope that when I do lose someone I love, I will remember those who have shown me it can be done with grace. And that learning how to be happy can still be achieved even after we’ve lost someone we loved.
To truly move past a painful experience I must feel it, and let it take me to where I’m supposed to be. Where I believe God wants me to be—happy joyous and free. Whether I believe that or not at the time, I’ve got to move towards that place of freedom and love. As long as I view the situation as “…well, this is where I’ve ended up,” I’m playing the victim and risk slipping into a morass of self-pity. Which for me, can be deadly.
We’ve all wondered does everything really happen for a reason? I think it’s what we learn from experiences that gives reason to them.
photo credit: ChristOff