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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 

Tragedy: Why Not You, Why Not Me

I don’t have much to share in the way of personal tragedy. I just don’t feel like sharing some of those things right now (plus, you wouldn’t want to be here all day, would you?). However, allow me to share with you a time (one of many, I assure you…) when I was reprimanded by…or er, taught a lesson by the Spirit.

During my freshman year at Rick’s College (now BYU-Idaho) I often crossed paths with a young man of about 21 who, through what I assumed to be a birth defect or degenerative disease, walked with crutches on twisted legs. Because Rick’s College was small, we had a couple of large group classes together where I learned that he was a returned missionary.

I remember one early, dark winter morning, trudging up the hill toward campus and seeing this young man making his way to campus also. As I watched him struggle along the eternally frozen streets, amazed at his ability to stay up-right, several thoughts crossed my mind:

“Why does he live so far from campus? Why doesn’t he have a motorized wheel chair? I wonder if he’s ever had a girlfriend…I wonder if he’ll ever get married. I wonder what kind of girl would date him. I…”

And then what I assume to be the Holy Ghost butted in with a very clear redirection of my thoughts…

“Well why not YOU?! Are you too good to look beyond his disability to get to know him and chance falling in love with him?!”

I felt stunned. I did think I was too good to date someone like him. All I could see was someone who was living with a tragedy, a difficult physical disability, while I was walking around with a tragic spiritual disability. What if that was the path Heavenly Father had in mind for me? What if I ignored promptings that would lead me to an incredibly happy and fulfilling life with a wonderful human being?

So this leads me to think, why not me when something bad happens. Bad things happen all the time. Am I too good to avoid tragedy in life?

One of my young women shared with me an experience she had when her divorced, going-to-school, trying-to-raise-three-kids-alone mother sat in the car with tears in her eyes and asked in all honesty, almost as a prayer, “Did I choose this life?”

Probably not. I doubt she sat in heaven and chose to have an unfaithful, dead beat husband who would leave her without any of thought of taking care of her or his children. Some tragedies are the result of people making really bad decisions that have detrimental effects upon the innocent. This is why we have commandments and the Golden Rule, to avoid unnecessary tragedy…and believe me, some tragedies in life are UNNECCESSARY and could have been avoided.

So I try not to take things personally. I don’t ask why me. I don’t even ask what God wants me to learn from this. That would make it too, fate-ful, too planned…I don’t think God has worked that way in my life, at least I don’t think it’s a healthy way for me to perceive his plan. I usually try to decipher what I CAN learn from what’s going on. Although, to be honest, that usually only happens once some time has passed, once the tragedy is over, once I’ve healed or regrouped or whatever… I can only hope that during the tragedy, I am making the right choices; that I am doing what Heavenly Father would want me to do to grow the most, learn the most, or get the most out of a difficult situation.

Posted by Carrie Ann

We've had a lot of people talk about the comfort found in faith in times of crisis. I wonder if there is some comfort to be found in thinking that it is all essentially random (not that this can't co-exist with faith, it just doesn't seem to be the fall-back position of the faithful). If it isn't really anybody's fault (i.e. it isn't UNNECESSARY), then it may be easier to disregard possible guilt (as I don't feel guilty when bears catch salmon, etc). The assignation of guilt for the inevitable really does seem to be a habit of the believing.

Thank you for this post, CA.

I've shared before that I've felt personally picked on by God. I had a Poor Me attitude for a lot of years.

As I age, however, I see that these tragedies happen to everyone. Not the same, but the same magnitude. Time is a great leveler.

I remember looking at a girl who I thought was rather shallow and thinking she couldn't handle a hangnail. She was quite materialistic and uncompassionate.

She died this year of ovarian cancer, leaving one child still a minor. Her (former) husband did not attend the funeral. They'd divorced during her chemo because he fell in love with another woman.

I didn't rejoice in her tragedy. But I did realize that God is an equal opportunity deity.

I suppose my belief in God and an afterlife have been a strength, but I also credit my Irish ability to laugh in the face of sorrow.

John, I have found a great deal of comfort in randomness. Sometimes, the trees fall the right way, you didn't buy down by the lake, and when the hurricane has gone, you get new carpet.

All around me, though, that has not been the case. Many, many very good people have lost a lot. Most of them are much better people than I am.

God is not testing them. God has not blessed me for (insert charming personal quality here) by keeping my family completely free from hurricane damage. It was a hurricane.

The rain it raineth every day
Upon the just and unjust fella
But more upon the just, because
the unjust hath the just's umbrella.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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