thoughtful rebuttal to "everything happens for a reason"

< This is part 1 of the blog series: Thoughtful Rebuttals to Popular Well-Intended Spiritual Comfort Phrases >

Hear my plea: words mean everything, therefore we must stop and ponder their meaning, especially those that have been passed down and embedded into our psyche labeled as "comforting".

From my perspective, too often, these coined "comforting" catch phrases are cloaked poison pills and daggers to the heart.

Up first on the guillotine...

"Everything happens for a reason"

Our human nature desperately needs to understand. We need to be able to explain to our psyches why something happened. The way we attempt to satisfy this need (and it truly is a need, much like food and water) is by carelessly saying "oh... everything happens for a reason".

Ewwww. YUCK!

What a cop out.

The underlying assumption here is that there is a divine order / orchestration to ALL things and therefore GOD (which is independently defined and understood by each and every person) has intentionally made x, y or z happen.

It completely negates free will, the power of co-creation, and fundamentals of consciousness and energy. Not to mention it's a gross oversimplification of the relationship and interconnectedness between you, me and every other living (and non-living) aspect to life.

Divine order and orchestration most certainly does exist but instead of assigning this quality to an external POWER, I am more interested in illuminating the Source within.

You're smart, you know that the decisions you make (or don't make) produce natural consequences but what is more difficult to measure is your creative / spiritual energy, mindset and focus, and how this interacts with the same elements of every other human being in your sphere.

Of course we are examining the individual experience; systems and groups can and do have creative potential and impact as well.

To illustrate my point:

Imagine your home just burned to the ground. Your family is safe. But sadly your beloved pet, along with every other precious memento and thing you've worked oh-so hard now lies in an ash heap.

Would it feel good for your bestie, your pastor or neighbor to say...

"Oh bless your heart...
This is terrible but you know, everything happens for a reason."


It's tricky and nuanced but this specific message can create spiritual distress.

Truth be told it is a form of spiritual bypassing.

Now not only do you have the trauma of losing everything to unpack and heal but you've also got to reconcile what the heck it means for your home to burn down, and that to be part of a perfect and "right" divine plan.

Alternatively, I want to challenge you in the following ways.

  1. Offer your empathy and love.
  2. Don't be afraid to simply BE with someone in their darkest moments. Remain emotionally available in the face of confusion and desperation. That is your gift.
  3. Be of service to others in super, practical ways. Anticipate their daily needs. Food and companionship are always valuable, practical ways to be there for others.
  4. Step into the role of being a witness. What someone truly needs is a sacred witness to their pain and darkness, not a fixer. Most importantly, fight the urge to supply an answer to "the" questions.

Consider this: what if the most spiritually fulfilling task and healing balm out there is learning to live with the questions.

Learning to live with the questions is a difficult, demanding task. And yet this is the task of our current times; reject subpar spiritual band-aids in lieu for a deeper, richer more satisfying explanation. 

The drive and search for WHY is a universal personal need. I am not asking you to relinquish it, entirely. I am asking you to engage it more thoughtfully.

What if instead of accepting "everything happens for a reason" as THE explanation, that instead it serves as a catalyst for personal exploration, learning and spiritual insight.

Going forward my hopes is that every time you hear "everything happens for a reason" you smile and know you have been directly invited to go deeper.

Deeper into:

  • Acceptance.
    "Life on life's terms" has always been messy and difficult to reconcile but if you choose to accept what is, you'll have much more emotional bandwidth for healing and moving forward.
  • Discovering truth
    Up for the adventure? You're in store for an incredibly personal and private, sacred journey that requires faith (of a risky variety) and being open to that which often lies beyond observable / measurable facts and absolute certainty.
  • Creating meaning. 
    This is key. Do you want to be a master storyteller and creator of your life or a puppet playing the part that has been assigned and created for you? Every human being has the innate creative potential capable of molding and sculpting their inner experience (and explanation) of life. This is neuroplasticity at its best.

To me, this is what it means to be human.

Boldly face your limitations.
Acknowledge your needs and the reality of life.
Create true spiritual strength by cultivating your ability to make meaning.


P.S. I've developed a totally FREE resource that walks you through the one essential tool that will help you find freedom from spiritual suffering and create rock solid spiritual strength in it's place. Get it here.

Stay tuned, I'll be tackling "God won't give you more than you can handle"
and "Blessings, come to those who ____." soon.