When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Our Final Exam

2011 April 28
by Steve Beckow

I’m hearing from many people that bad things are happening and, in some cases, it looks unjust that they should be. And it probably is unjust.

These are such challenging times. And when bad things happen, they become positively scary times.

Maybe you have a tyrannical boss. Or a landlord who has become a stickler all of a sudden. Or you just received an outrageous bill that you won’t be allowed to sidestep or postpone, at exactly a time when you’re financially strapped.

Life may be bringing us a few last, stubborn lessons before we graduate. If we can see these situations as the last lessons we need to learn, it may make things easier.

With the tyrannical boss, have I been tyrannical? Have I sold myself out to a critical other, been a doormat? Have I been careless in my work or other habits? What does life want to teach me?

We may need to put changes in place. We may need to learn to stand up for ourselves. We may need to tighten our procedures. Life may be asking us to make changes now that will benefit us forever into the future. It may be asking us to make changes that we’ve refused until now, which life thinks that we must make before we face this important time in our future.

Life may be asking us to experience conditions of hardship to elevate our compassion. It may be wanting to tenderize us or have us stand forth in our integrity.

It may be that life has a job for us and we need to develop certain qualities to make it work. Or we may need to drop certain other qualities to make it work. Life is dealing with us more plainly now than it has in the past, I think.

I know I’m being asked to do all manner of confronting things – talk on the radio, speak from the heart, open up new forums, spread myself as thin as butter.

I just encourage us to allow ourselves to be open to life as the teacher at this time of preparation for graduation. Look upon what is happening, if you can, as the finishing touches on us as students. Even if we’re asked to pay a cost and it all seems unjust: what is the lesson here?

And don’t forget to call on your angels and the galactics. They cannot intervene unless you ask them.

Soon we’ll be graduating and this whole thing will end. I’m utterly convinced that that is true and I don’t think I’m being delusional.

But we need to endure these last few months. Then we’ll keel over laughing when the little tin pots start flying through the air and the funny-looking men and women with the pointy ears smile at us and wave.

And for the rest of us, if we’re not caught up in these last-minute problems and lessons, it still may be our time to share with those who are or have less or are in need. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve heard from who are in need. I personally am going to reach the finish line with perhaps a dollar in my pocket. And that is absolutely OK with me. It’s even OK if I’m down to eating my stored away food (cans of fish and powdered milk!) before the two weeks while the banks are closed (or one week or three days) just to reach the finish line.

I encourage you, if you know of people around you who are suffering financially and you have some extra, to share. You can clobber me for this advice later. I’m not asking you to put you or your own family in jeopardy.

I’m just suggesting that we ease our judgments about people at this time and go the extra mile if we can because life may be asking some of our neighbors to meet a tough lesson, tougher than ordinary, and it may be asking us to develop our generosity.

This is a time generally for all of us to drop our old paradigms, whatever they may be. But we need to do it responsibly and maturely. We have to listen to our inner voices. We need to move away from being lemmings and victims and martyrs and get that, starting today, we are spiritual adults, able to respond from the heart and not from calculation or manipulation.

We may need to learn the lesson of just standing here, as we are and as we’re not, taking the slings and arrows of outrageous fate and still standing forth in our integrity, with as much joy as we can muster, as life gives us our final lesson and our final exam.