Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Sep 20
2009

Why do bad things happen to good people? There is always a deeper spiritual purpose behind the “bad” things that happen in the physical realm. Time, experience, and hindsight ultimately provide answers.

Many “bad” physical things have happened to me: my divorce from my first husband,  struggles caring for a family member hooked on drugs, the sudden death of  my second husband, a landlord who evicted me because he thought he could get more money from someone else. At least, they felt bad, unjustified, and unexplainable at the time.

Is this Higher Power’s way of strengthening me with courage, deepening me with compassion, clarifying my values, and moving me along the path I am intended to go? Not my will, but Thine?

I never thought I would divorce my husband. I believe in commitment and accountability. Yet when he became involved with another woman and refused to end the relationship, I found myself sitting in a spiritual limbo. I felt degraded to nothing more than a baby sitter, cook, and housekeeper. I had lost my partner. Perhaps I never had one. We were simply on different spiritual paths.

I agonized for months over whether to stay or whether to leave. After all, we had three children, all of whom I loved dearly. I struggled with anger, guilt, and fear. Ultimately I left the marriage and applied to law school.

I had never considered being a lawyer. The divorce radically shifted my path. After almost twenty years of staying home to care for husband, home, and children, I had to find a way to support myself financially on the physical plane. On the spiritual plane, I  felt compelled to find a way to speak about the mystical experience I had had years ago. Law school could teach me to think and speak with more clarity. None of this was easy.

Would I have become a lawyer had I remained married? Probably not.

My struggles in a relationship where a family member was addicted to cocaine propelled me into Naranon, a twelve step support group for families and friends of addicts. Would I ever have become aware of my own addictions to people and relationships, but for that experience? Would I ever have realized the value of setting boundaries and tough love? Would I ever have learned to focus on my own issues and stop trying to change others? Would I ever have learned the value of using first person singular language when speaking? The words then become simply my own thoughts. They are no longer ideas I am forcing on others, but, at the same time, I am free to express what I truly think and feel.

When my second husband Don died suddenly of a heart attack on Roatan, Honduras, it was, of course, a terrible shock. My life immediately afterwards was not easy. His death changed my life direction drastically. Among other things, I no longer had a home in the States.

Don was 14 years older than I. He had heart problems and had begun to lose his balance and fall a lot of the time. His mind was not as sharp as it used to be. It was becoming a full time job to care for him.

When I look at his death from hindsight, I can’t help but wonder if the timing and manner were exactly right. Have you heard of people making agreements before they enter this physical life to relate to one another in a particular way? I can’t help but wonder if Don and I did that.

After Don’s death, I simply holed up in the house in Roatan and wrote Shift, the book I’ve known for 35 years I had to write. Would I have had the time and focus to write a book had Don wasted away for years? Probably not.

When my landlord in a foreign country evicted me because he thought he’d found another tenant who would pay him more money and give him a longer term lease, I was furious. The anger again made me aware of how important commitment , accountability, and trust were to me. I struggled to find ways to enforce those values in a country that had little respect them. On the physical plane, it was not a struggle I could win. Even though my landlord had violated our agreement, I soon discovered I had no legal right to stay. On the spiritual plane, I had help in ways I could never have imagined.

I left as quickly as I could. With the breach of trust and lack of accountability, I didn’t want to pay this man any more money than necessary. I had to let go and trust Universal Energy to take care of the “bad” physical things. I was not disappointed.

Shortly after I left, my landlord’s wonderful new tenant breached his lease with the landlord. He hasn’t rented the house since.

An astute, spiritual friend said to me eighteen months ago when I was first having challenges with the builder of my home, “Haven’t you figured out yet that you aren’t supposed to live there?” No, I hadn’t. I’m stubborn. I will exhaust every viable avenue I can think of to resolve a situation or relationship issue before I’ll walk away. However, when Higher Power doesn’t want me to stay where I am, She just keeps slapping me harder and harder and putting more and more roadblocks in my way until I have no choice but to move in a new direction. From hindsight, the new direction is invariably the one my spiritual path is intended to take.

Can You Be Authentically Angry and Authentically Fair at the Same Time?

Sep 05
2009

My first thought was, “No, I can’t be authentically angry and authentically fair at the same time.”

In our human world, I frequently experience a sudden shift from being fair and reasonable to feeling rage when a person on the other side of a transaction stops being fair and reasonable, blames, doesn’t listen, doesn’t respond, and tries to control, manipulate or dictate an outcome that is not mutually acceptable. 

However, at a different level of consciousness, I think I can be both authentically angry and authentically fair.

On the human level, “fair and reasonable” assumes that the other and I have a mutual goal – working together to create a result that neither of us could create alone. We brainstorm and mastermind, throwing our thoughts out to each other and exchanging information about what we can do and what we can’t. We look for alternate ways of creating the result. Together, we make it happen. This happened for me recently with the help of almost 40 other people. It was both mind-boggling and humbling. 

“Fair and reasonable” at the human level breaks down when the goals of the parties are no longer identical. The homeowner wants a beautiful, well-built home. The builder wants to pocket as much money as possible with as little expense as possible. If the original understanding was that the builder would construct a house in accordance with specific plans using specific materials, and the homeowner would make progress payments, when one of them does not do what they agreed to do, it’s very easy, on the human level, to shift from “fair and reasonable” to authentically angry. 

“Authentically angry” is, of course, an emotion. “Fair and reasonable” is a function of the rational mind and normally involves committed action.

What does it mean to be “authentically angry”?

It does not mean lashing out with blame, criticism, and name-calling. Those are actions, not emotions, and often they’re done re-actively, not consciously. Experience tells me they are not useful. 

It does, however, mean noticing and feeling my anger. Then I can decide what to do with it. 

Usually, I have to shift from creative mode to assertive mode. While before I was working with another to create a mutually beneficial result, now I am taking unilateral action to create a mutually beneficial result. I am still being authentically fair and reasonable but I am using my authentic anger to change my own actions.

Change is never directed at the other. It is only directed at myself.

The mutually beneficial result may not feel mutually beneficial to either of us on a human level at the time, but from hindsight, it is always a karmic vehicle for bringing both of us into harmony on a more expanded spiritual level. 

When I first moved to the part of the world where I am now living, I rented a home from a Long Island real estate investor. I told him I needed to stay in the rental until my own home was built. He agreed. I thought my lease protected me. 

Two years later, someone  else offered to pay him more money and give him a three year lease. He asked if I would match the offer. I said, “No. I couldn’t make that kind of commitment.” He sent me an eviction notice. 

Fury does not adequately describe what I felt. I had always paid my rent on time and took good care of the place. Yet this man didn’t care. All he wanted was more money. 

I spoke with several local officials and attorneys. They told me he had every legal right to evict me. 

“What if I refuse to leave?” I asked. 

“You’ll get a judgment against you,” they replied. 

I had no legal support and no other worldly options. However, I had spiritual options. I left politely and quickly. I wanted my landlord to receive as little additional money from me as possible.  

My landlord breached his agreement with me. At the human level, there was nothing fair and reasonable about this. But was there a spiritual benefit? Absolutely.

I had learned once again that I needed to be more selective in choosing the people to whom I gave my trust and my money. This man had helped me step into my own sharpened discernment, assertiveness and power.

And the spiritual, karmic benefit to him? My landlord’s wonderful new tenant breached his agreement with my landlord. The house has now been vacant for over a year.