Have you ever found yourself in a situation that was somewhat confusing, uncomfortable or perhaps even dangerous? Sometimes it’s hard to understand why things happen or why we must participate in particular activities. We don’t often understand why certain people enter our lives or why they leave. “Living in the moment” is a wonderful philosophy but can obstruct our ability to more fully see the bigger picture, the why’s and what for’s. As a child, I believed I had the meanest parents in the world. In my limited mind, I could only see the restrictions they placed on me that prohibited me from doing the things I wanted or that appeared to be fun in the moment, such as climbing to the top of the 60 foot oak tree in the backyard. I found myself angry with them much of the time. Yet as I grew older, I understood that the decisions they made were for my well-being and designed to keep me safe and alive.
Cleaning my room, doing my homework before playing with my friends, eating my veggies – each of these rules were part of the larger picture of my life. Being disciplined, nourishing my body or even being leery of strangers all served me well later in life.
Consider this: as an adult, perhaps we’re facing exploratory surgery that will be painful. This can cause us to become angry and bitter until the doctor explains that in doing she so will be able to uncover the serious medical issue plaguing us and with proper treatment can most likely correct it.
There is much suffering that one must endure in life. With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the world is reeling from the shock of yet another atrocity committed against humanity. For many, there is no logic to these horrific events and people cry out for revenge while governments call for retaliation. Certainly I do not condone nor minimize the horrific acts perpetrated on our brothers and sisters yet I am able to see beyond the incident and understand this from a broader perspective. As a people we have collectively devalued human life. Due in part to technology which dehumanizes people through violent games, sexualized images, social media bullying, and a general disconnect from physical interaction with others, we have less regard for one another as human beings comprised of flesh and blood and feelings and needs. We have lost our ability to feel compassion and empathy for one another and prefer the company of our computers to that of others. Our tolerance levels have plummeted to zero and courtesy is almost nonexistent. Pews in churches that were once filled to capacity now sit in anticipation of the arrival of a few diehard followers. God’s name is only spoken in conjunction with profanity and cynicism reigns where optimism and cheerfulness once resided.
Yet in times of extreme tragedies, civilization remembers its humanity and reaches out in love and concern to embrace one another in a strong statement of solidarity. People turn to God in a desperate plea for guidance, assistance, and strength. Prayer replaces criticism; families gently hold one another in remembrance of their unity and love; footsteps echo in churches around the world as people come together in prayer. In a world where wrong has become right, and moral values have been replaced with a “do what makes you happy” mentality, where those who’ve been sworn to protect us are now viewed as criminals and greed overshadows generosity, a tragedy of this magnitude serves in part to remind us of what is truly important, pure and honorable. It helps to restore our sense of right and wrong and propels us to find ways to cohabitate in peaceful unity with one another. And while some may blame God for such horrific events, rest assured that He does not have the capacity to inflict harm upon His children. He endowed us with intellect, free will, and a set of 10 Commandments to ensure our well-being. We chose which path to take in life: one of violence and hatred or the path of righteousness and love.
Like the athlete who endures sore muscles, a torn cartilage or broken bones, in anticipation of achieving world-class status as the premier competitor in their sport, we must be willing to look at the bigger picture of any event that takes place in our personal lives or on a global level. When we look beyond the moment and explore the deeper meaning of what has occurred it enables us to see the purpose behind the event and thus replace anger with understanding and hope.
Know that there is always a bigger picture, a higher purpose to every person and event that touches our lives for each is meant to unite us in love and compassion and ultimately bring us into a closer union with God. And once acknowledged, anger can no longer thrive.