Spend any time with any religious person (no matter what major religion), and they likely believe in a supernatural fatalism.
They might say, it was god’s plan that you made an A on that test. It was god’s plan that someone helped you through a tough time. It was god’s plan that you didn’t get on that plane and it crashed.
I reunited with my little brother Mark during my last trip to North Carolina. I’m adopted. My birth mother Maria had me when she was 16 going on 17 in 1975. She got married several years later and had my little brother Mark in 1985.
When I met Maria for the first time, I met Mark, too. I was 20; he was 10. Now that he’s older, he showed more of an appreciation and psychological appreciation for hooking up with his big brother.
Mark is married. He married a month after Tina and I back in 2008. He and his wife Taya have a little boy on the way. In appearance, he’s got it together. He’s enjoying his current station in life despite his background.
Long story short, Maria — a wandering, free-spirited soul — somewhat raised him. I say “somewhat” because after Maria divorced Mark’s father, Mark split his time between his mom and dad. He told me, “I felt like, instead of them being my parents, I was theirs. I would live with whoever seemed to need me most at the time.”
How heartbreaking is that?
I don’t know all the details, but I know that Maria and her ex-husband suffered from addiction issues. Mark’s dad is battling alcoholism and has stayed clean for a couple years.
I’m not entirely sure what Maria battled exactly. When we met, she accused Mark’s dad of larger addictions like crack and insinuated that she felt compelled to be involved too. That’s the nicest way of saying, “She likely was a crack addict for a long time, and I have no idea if she still is.”
Mark admitted a couple weeks ago that he had to grow up fast. He didn’t finish high school, and now he’s studying for a high school diploma equivalent. Not having a high school diploma has prevented him from landing decent paying jobs.
Like I said, Mark feels as if he is in a solid place. He’s positive. His wife loves him, and she’s a great support.
A religious person might look at that and say, “This was God’s (or some holiness’) plan. He/she/it would never put you in a position that you can’t handle. This was how things were meant to be.” A Christian might refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13 as support for such a statement, but in context it has nothing to do with the adage:
“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
There’s a popular Christian saying with variations that says, “God will not put you in any situation beyond what you can bear.” But it’s found nowhere in the bible. It’s derived from the verse above and from stories like Job.
In fact, the bible seems more clear that there are situations in life that are beyond what you can bear. Paul and Elijah (or whoever wrote those books) both talked tough life facts. The links take you to two verses that I’m sure religionistas will claim are out of context.
I digress. Let me return to my point.
I’ve been told three hundred and fifty five times that my life is not a mistake, or that it was god’s plan. Every time those words are uttered, I move further from Christianity. It’s not a positive statement. It’s really quite cruel.
That means kids born in poverty with HIV, that’s god’s plan too.
That means, a zillionaire CEO or even millionaire Glenn Beck is benefiting from Mormon god’s plan while 14 million people in Cambodia are reveling in god’s plan to live in a third-world hell hole. There’s a celebrity named Tom Cruise lavishly loving god’s plan while some little 8-year-old girl is wailing and gritting her teeth, while a sweaty, whiskey-stinking fat man rips open her vagina in a filthy room in the back of a dirty Thai brothel. That means it’s god’s plan when a priest fingers a little boy while you live in a rich country reading my spoiled-ass gloating daily on this blog.
That means it was god’s plan to put Mark through the wringer for 20 plus years.
How cruel is that? Maybe I’m wrong, but Mark may never have the opportunities to do even a quarter of the things I have been fortunate to do.
Side-by-side comparison: I had an amazing and disciplined upbringing with great parents and amazing mentors. Mark did not. I lived in a world where the culture encouraged strangers to pay for my education when my parents were down and out. He never experienced that. I finished high school and college. He didn’t. He was turned down for a job at Disney because he wasn’t a high school graduate. I have lived in three other countries apart from the U.S and traveled to several more. I never had to watch my parents go on a bender to the hilt. I never had to clean up after my parents from a weekend of binge drinking.
Odd thing is, both Mark’s parents claim to be “Christians.” We have that in common.
Admittedly, being Christian doesn’t make perfection. Most Christians do not assume or profess perfection. They likely say, “I’m not perfect, but through god’s grace, I’m forgiven.” In other words, “Through god’s grace, I’m better than you, because you aren’t forgiven.”
God speak is often confusing and contradictory, but only from the outside. Well, not always. I figured it out early as a Christian, but allowed cognitive dissonance to rule until I finally retired from belief.
It’s very hard for me to admit to holding two contradictory thoughts at one time.
Is it easier for you?
What’s your favorite “god’s plan” contradictory scenario?