Bad Things Happen to Good People

Alissa - Kenai, Alaska
Entered on March 14, 2008

Bad things happen to good people. My father-in-law, a real father to me in more ways than he knows, was recently diagnosed with a degenerative and terminal lung disease, this week our children’s day-care provider unexpectedly flew her family out of state in response to her seven-year-old son’s sudden diagnosis with leukemia, my husband narely escaped death as he was caught and buried alive in a massive avalanche, and my friend who thought she simply misplaced her hip during a fun romp with her husband never recovered and found out she has rampant cancer in her pelvis.

These are good people.

These are people who care for and put others before themselves. With gentle spirits, each of them cares for the seemingly insignificant yet important comforts in the lives of others; loving children with an unadulterated enthusiasm, lending a hand to anyone in need, and appreciating the art, humor, and song of life.

This is life—it’s messy and it just happens, regardless of our attempts to set it up like a pretty tea party or have it play out like the triumphant last play of our favorite team’s season victory. Sometimes the tablecloth gets pulled out from under the model arrangement; sometimes the ball gets dropped, leaving the crowd in momentarily silent and shocked disbelief. We jump out of our seats and yell, as if it will change the fact that the tea has spilled down the front of us or that the ball lies motionless in the end zone.

It is difficult at times to stop the thoughts of why and it’s not fair from festering in my mind. Why do the corrupt, callous, and unapologetic populace seem to walk away from life unscathed? Karma? What goes around comes around? They got what they deserved? The law of reciprocity? No—none of these work here. There aren’t any reasonable answers to offer clarity to the dreadful dealings undeserving people go through.

These injustices used to anger me. I remember growing up with the notion that if I made the proper choices in life: treated others with respect, didn’t run with the wrong crowd, worked hard at success, and said my prayers, that life would be blissful in return. The lightening bolt or monkey wrench would never be thrown in my direction.

I have come to understand, however, that this gut-wrenching path of life has barely dirtied my feet. More devastation will surely wander across my trail if not confront me head on—but the dirt is what makes me who I am. If I never knew hurt, I wouldn’t have the ability to experience true happiness either. The path of least resistance tends to lead to more flat land—it is dull and boring, but the difficult path can lead to great and unimaginable heights that the easy path will never accomplish.

The ideal of what life is “supposed to be” is a total hoax. This perfection doesn’t exist.

It is living at peace with the messiness that life automatically creates that allows true growth and beauty to blossom. It is in between the rocks of the difficult path where the most durable and resilient things grow.