“Why is our family so messed up?”
The scene was our kitchen table and remnants of the battlefield that can be family dinner were scattered all around. We shared the news of a cousin who is ill with our kids and asked for their prayers. Out of the blue, Miss 9 cried out, “why is our family so messed up? Why have all these hard things been happening to the people we love?” In other words, the fundamental question of the universe, why do bad things happen to good people?
A lengthy conversation between me and our two eldest children ensued over the next 45 minutes as they bombarded me with questions over death, divorce, long term illness and life’s every day, normal, hard things.
I don’t know how much they retained or any idea whether my rambling answers hit home. But I do know this. As I talked about family and community and faith and love, that part they understood. They grasped the idea of being there for each other. They connected with the power of a prayer or thought for a friend. In our conscious acknowledgement of what others are experiencing, we answer that universal injunction to mourn with those that mourn.
Tests and Consequences
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. Some bad things in my life have been tests for me to grow in strength and wisdom. Certainly the times of the greatest growth in my life have been during periods of intense adversity. But life as a great testing center doesn’t cover it all by a long shot.
More than that, there are consequences to actions. I cannot control the choices of others to act in stupid and even evil ways. The knock-on effect of their choices flow all the way through to war and starvation and all the world’s horrors. We might have choice over our actions and responses. We don’t get to choose consequences. Against unmitigated evil, I have only one answer. Love.
And then there is love…
In the dark and the agony and the fear, there is always that light that comes from love. We have to be that love for each other. We start in our families and our neighborhoods and immediate community. And we end in the farthest flung village in the most remote land.
Just today, I heard from my friend Naomi at Seven Cherubs about her friend Lisa. Lisa lost her special needs son four months ago. On a family vacation last week, her beloved husband suddenly died at 39. I don’t know Lisa. I live 10,000 miles away from her. We have some common threads. We are both Australian. We share the same faith. But we’ve never met, she’s never heard of me in fact. And yet we are linked.
We are linked through our beautiful online friendships. We are linked as mothers. As women who love a good man for eternity. And as sisters – global sisters, spiritual sisters. Lisa’s sisters, both strangers and dear close ones, are holding her in our hearts. We are praying for strength and courage for her. And we are adding our tears to hers as we mourn and grieve with her. Following that great injunction. And doing what we can.
All the love in the world to you from far away and close by.
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