After a very full week of driving three days cross country to get my husband settled in for a new job, hunting for a house in a CRAZY sellers’ market, arriving to our new city to a very sketchy AirBNB (then having to switch to staying in an Extended Stay hotel and contacting AirBNB to get a refund), getting my youngest switched over to a new school in California now that schools in are doing in-person learning (knowing also that soon we’ll just have to switch her to Alabama, but there it was), making sure we had what we needed for my husband’s job and the last bit for licensure, … and other things, I was eager to get back to California to be in my own bed and hit the ground to prepare for MORE things to do.
I had a one-way flight from Birmingham to Fresno on Friday afternoon, with two legs, layover in Dallas. Weather delayed the first flight and I speed-walked from gate B4 to C31 in Dallas, no easy feat. I was late, but a number of other people were as well. We finally were let onto the plane. Well, long story short, at least three issues caused three hours of delays on that flight, and we ended up having to deplane at 10 p.m. because there were maintenance problems that couldn’t be fixed. It was stressful for us all. We waited in line after line, and I ended up in a hotel 15 miles away from the airport around midnight without my suitcase. Luckily, our flight the next morning took off without any delay and I was very happy and relieved to be home.
What I noticed several times were people trying to make the best of the situation late that stressful night by saying, “Well, I’m sure we’re better off not being on the plane. God must be protecting us.” Or “God has a plan, so it’s all for the best.” And while they’re not wrong that God has a plan, I felt in my heart a truth making itself more known in my heart: Not everything that goes wrong has a particular purpose. In fact, a lot of things that go wrong have no reason whatsoever.
Let me explain.
I believe that God, our Heavenly Father, created us as spirits before we were born here on Earth. He had and still has a plan for us, which included us being born here and receiving physical bodies to join with our spirits, as well as having lots of opportunities to grow and learn in this mortal existence. And generally speaking, while I believe and know that He is absolutely mindful of every detail of our lives and is watching over us, He doesn’t control or micromanage everything we go through. We’ve been put into this experience of living in a fallen world, and we learn through all the things that happen naturally in this world. And a lot is difficult, stressful, tragic, worrisome, heartbreaking. On the flip side, a lot can also be joyous and happy and beautiful. But we are truly subjected to all that life has to throw at us, and I don’t believe God will remove most of those natural difficulties, just as He generally won’t protect us from the results of other people’s choices. Sometimes He intervenes. But most of the time, we must learn and grow through this experience just as it is.
I’ve learned a lot about this from being a parent and grandparent. I’ve watched my little ones (and then older ones too) struggle mightily with navigating life. I’ve always been there, watching and making sure they weren’t in serious danger, but many times as they’ve struggled to do something they just have to learn on their own, I’ve had to just watch and let them struggle — and then triumph. That’s how they needed to learn. But I’ve been available for hugs and love and a listening ear. I think that our Heavenly Parent does the same thing: He’s there, He’s watching and available and ready to intervene if needed, He’s listening. But He doesn’t rescue us from everything.
So while God was aware that about 200 of us in a plane in Dallas were stressed and waiting for hours and then had to wait overnight to get where we were going, I don’t necessarily think there was a particular purpose. It’s POSSIBLE that plane was going to have a serious issue and He saved us from it. But more likely, a bunch of stuff just went wrong, as it tends to do in life, and that’s that. The situation didn’t need to be orchestrated by God for us to learn something, nor were we saved from a potential danger.
However, each of us had the opportunity to learn whatever lessons we needed to learn from what took place.
For me, the lesson was that our loving Father in Heaven isn’t going to take away most of what life naturally throws at us. Sometimes He tempers things that happen, sometimes He does save us from something; but mostly, He’s watching over us and always listening. And He’s cheering us on. I’ve gone through a lot this past year, on top of all that’s resulted from Covid. My mental health is generally helped well by medications, but in the extreme pressure cooker of one thing on top of another, it’s slipped a lot. I’ve felt myself crying out to God, “Why?? Why are you letting this happen? You know how precarious my situation is. You know. Why aren’t you doing something?”
And too often, I’ve felt He wasn’t. And in a way, that’s been true. He hasn’t removed these trials from me. Life has continued. I’ve been angry and railed at Him. But I’ve also grown and become stronger. And I know He’s there, saying, “OK, see? You did it! I knew you could. And you did. I’ve been here the whole time.”
Life will continue to be stressful, heartbreaking, and challenging. And I’ll continue to have moments or days when I question why God isn’t doing more. But I know that there is an overall purpose and plan, even while each situation doesn’t necessarily have a reason. And as I’ve learned, I remember in my toughest times the experiences I’ve had where I’ve known for sure that God was telling or teaching me something very clearly, answering a prayer, or filling me with love and joy beyond my natural capacity. Because I do know for sure that He has done those things for me many times.