Guest Blogger, Lorie Sheffer:
Several years ago my friend told me about advice her mother had just given her. We had to laugh at the harshness of it. After pouring out her heart over coffee and strudel, her mother simply looked at her and asked, “Why should you be spared?” A pity party would have been nice. Soothing words would have been welcome. Instead she got five words- no nonsense, old-fashioned German wisdom- that must have felt like a bucket of cold water in the face.
The last five years of my life have been chock full of some real doozies. While I was in my doctor’s office for a regular check-up, she asked how things were going. I gave her a partial list, and her eyes got wide and her jaw dropped. She asked if I was OK. “Well, it’s been rough, but why should I be spared?” I answered.
We all know that bad things happen. People get sick. We lose loved ones. There are times when the economy is rough. (Remember waiting in lines at the gas station in the 70s?) Nobody wants it to be his or her turn at the tough stuff, but if not you, then who? It’s not like the other guy deserves it, either. There are times when, no matter how much we try to prevent it, we can be doing everything right and we just happen to draw the short straw.
Ever notice how, when times are good and life is calm and serene, you rarely hear “Why me?” If you do hear someone ask why he or she deserves such a good and happy life, those around them will jump right in to assure them that their good fortune should be enjoyed. “Why should they be spared” happiness?
There are things we can do to contribute toward our economic security or good health or happy marriage. Wise investments, a good education and careful saving can mean financial stability. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking and getting regular preventative care can stack the odds in our favor when it comes to our physical well being. But there are some things that just happen. Sometimes life can seem like a crapshoot of sorts. We read about people who dropped out of school and went on to become multimillionaires. I had a great uncle who drank heavily, smoked and was grossly overweight and lived to be well into his nineties. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t smoke, drank in moderation and exercised like it was his job, yet he had a massive stroke when he was forty-four years old. My best friend was a wonderful and loving wife and mother, yet after thirty years of marriage her husband left her for another woman. Perhaps the bad things in life happen as a way for us to have a greater appreciation of the good things. The sun is always brightest just after the storm has passed. That first warm day of spring is so joyous after a harsh winter, as is the first crisp fall day after a sweltering summer.
I have always been a person who has to know the answer. I feel more secure if there is a reason why. I suppose I rationalize that if I can find a reason why, then I can figure out how to stop the same thing from happening again. It gives me a sense of control. It’s hard to accept that sometimes, bad things happen to good people. And yet, I find strange comfort in Maria’s words. She was being kinder than it seemed. Sometimes the answer is simple. “Why should you be spared?”