The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good.
I’m not a religious person. I grew up with a strongly religious grandmother and about half of my family members just as religious. I was taught Christianity (evangelical) and raised with it. I went to church about three days a week and thought it was the right way. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old and sitting in church that I all of a sudden felt really confused. The pastor was talking about how sinful and wrong homosexuals were. Wait…God doesn’t accept and love everyone like I was always told? How can being gay be wrong? My favorite family member is gay. You’re saying he’s not accepted? You’re saying he’s going to hell? What THE HELL?
I remember sitting in that chair feeling first shocked, then confused, and eventually I started to get angry. Nothing he was saying after that mattered anymore. I decided that day that I could not be a part of a religion that claimed homosexuality was wrong when I knew in my heart it was not a choice. I stopped going, stopped praying, and the more I heard about the ideology of my church the more angry and bitter I became about it.
Now that 12 years have passed, I’ve had a lot of time to mull it over. I don’t inherently dislike one religion over the other, but I do believe some are better grounded and less self-serving. I also don’t claim any religion for myself. I don’t force religion upon others nor do I force anti-religion on them. I do what I do and I let others do what they do.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m atheist, either. Sometimes I feel like there may be a higher being, sometimes not. I believe in being a good-natured person who is accepting of others and tries to do good in life. The verdict is still out on whether or not I believe in heaven and hell. Despite all of this, I still carry Christian guilt and fear. In every situation where I’m in a group and that group is called to pray (at a funeral, wedding, family gathering dinners) I go into instant-christian-robot mode and bow my head and say “amen”. That was one piece of conditioning that has still stuck with me.
The reason I’m talking about all this religion stuff is because despite the fact I’m no longer “religious”, I do have some beliefs, and faith in those beliefs. One really strong belief I have (that most religions also have) is the idea that everything happens for a reason. I don’t necessarily think some higher being is pulling the strings, but I do truly believe there’s a positive for every negative that happens, and that life turns out exactly how it was supposed to.
Take for instance my day yesterday. I woke up an hour and a half late (damn you, daylight savings taking away my morning light!). I scrambled to get ready and ended up getting out the door just 15 minutes later. I ended up getting to the city I work in just 10 minutes before my shift. Because I had missed coffee making and breakfast at home, I decided I really need a Starbucks latte and sandwich.
I pull into the Starbucks drive-thru line that is wrapped all the way around the large Starbucks (that used to be a Burger King) and spilling into the street. I wait a few minutes and decide it’s not worth being late to work, so I leave.
I get to work a whopping two minutes early (Woo!) only to be greeted by my coworker telling me that one of our bosses has failed to meet an appointment time, the client is pissed, and he’s pointing the blame on me. I spend about a half an hour in B. Rage Mode because this is not the last time he has tried to make something my fault because he can’t do his job correctly and/or can’t accept fault before I write up an email to the client expressing our apologies (for something I didn’t do).
With no food in my stomach and a little caffeine from the office pot my stomach is doing flips from the excitement of the morning without any real caffeine kick or food to supplement it. I decide to leave the office and get the latte and sandwich I was trying to get earlier, grumbling all the way.
I get back to the Starbucks and there is still an enormous line. I decide waiting in that line and zoning out is better than being in my office angry so I stay. By the time I’ve ordered and made it to the window, the worker informs me that the person in front of me bought my order.
*record scratch* What?!
My mood changed instantly at my good luck and I decided to pay it forward and purchase the order of the person behind me. Remember my Friday the 13th? Looks like it came back to me in a morning I desperately needed an attitude change.
Sure, it was small. But If I hadn’t woken up late, if I hadn’t been late, if the first line wasn’t so gigantic and I didn’t incur more stress upon my arrival to the office, I would have not been in that line, with that person, who decided to be generous and pay for my order. Every stupid little irritating thing that happened, happened. But if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have had someone pay me a good deed which allowed me to do it for someone else and focus on something else besides my stupid problems.
If I had my college career bundled up nicely with a nice bow, doing what I decided to do in high school, I wouldn’t have been as close with some of the friends I have now that are so valuable, and I would probably be unhappy doing something I shouldn’t have done. I wouldn’t have found the direction I truly wanted to go and where I felt right. I often kick myself over taking too long to finish school but in the end, it’s worked out best for me.
I’m still trying to figure out some things, like why I decided to end my last relationship or why I got rejected by that school, but eventually it will all lead me where I need to be.
Keep this in mind the next time something less than desirable happens in your life – no matter how big or small. No matter how painful or irritating. Because it was supposed to.