Last week I was walking L to his soccer practice when I was rundown by a mom on D's soccer team. At the time I was carrying my chair, my diet coke (a must) and rushing L along because we were running a few minutes late (as usual) and I know he hates being the last person there. It had already been a crazy day with ortho appointments, crap at work, toilet fixing jobs, and arguments with D to get his homework done before I rushed out the door. I was feeling a bit flustered to say the least.
"Peggy! I was thinking about D the other day and how "jerk coach" yells at him all the time and you may not want to hear this but I had a great thought."
I paused, after urging my 7 year old to move faster than a snail's pace over to his field, and said, "Huh? D's fine, he played well over the weekend and at this point we just encourage him to do his best when he's on the field and not let "jerk coach" define his ability as a player. We're good."
"Well..." said annoying mom, "I was just thinking that maybe God put "jerk coach" in D and these boys' lives to teach them a lesson." She then proceeded to talk about her husband who is a negative person and how hard of a summer she's had and a few condescending comments about "how well D has been playing."
I snapped. Well, let's be honest, I snapped as much as I could snap on a soccer field surrounded by tons of kids and parents.
I told her, "First of all, D is perfectly fine. He is a great player, always has been a great player and is a valuable member of his team, regardless of what "jerk coach" says and how much playing time he gets or at this point how the other boys treat him (which isn't always great since he is "jerk coach's" butt boy). He is also 12. Soccer is just a game that D plays and by no means defines him. Second, I don't believe God has a plan and put "jerk coach" in D's life to teach him a lesson. GOD HAS NO PLAN!"
"But, even if he doesn't have a plan," she sputtered, "he allows things to happen. We just don't understand why"
Here's the thing...I don't think God has a plan for all of us. "Allowing" bad things to happen is the same as making things happen. If God has a plan and makes or allows bad things to happen to innocent people then I don't want anything to do with that God. Nothing good has come from Jeanne and Mike dying in a car accident. God doesn't cause cancer. God doesn't let innocent kids die of starvation or random accidents. What makes me any more special than a mom in the slums of Rio? Yet God let's me live in relative luxury and she lives in poverty and struggles to care for her children? I don't think God causes human suffering to teach us lessons or give us a test.
I don't believe that God is the master puppeteer manipulating us humans as He pleases. In that scenario, I don't have free will or choice in the matter. What I decide or anyone decides doesn't matter. How can I truly choose to follow His will if He's already decided what's going to happen?
This is what I do think. Bad things happen. We all have different life experience for whatever reason. And God is with us in the good and the bad. He is there for us in the way we each need and it's our job to choose to recognize it and act upon it in the way we should as decent human beings. Be kind. Don't hurt others. Love others. Treat people with respect. Be happy and be true to ourselves.
For some people, He is there in the beauty of the sunshine or a child's smile. For some people, it means they don't believe in Him at all. For others it's the call to prayer multiple times a day. Some need to feel like he's there to depend on and provide us the things we think we need whether it is a job, the latest gadget, healing from an illness, or just clarity of heart.
And for some of us, He needs to sit back on the sidelines until we are ready to realize He's still there.
A gentle nudge every once in awhile to remind me that there is something bigger than me out there, and not to be so mired in my grief and pain. A soft whisper reminding me of the good in my life. The very, very good in my life.