“In God’s plan, nothing happens by chance” – Saint John Paul II
I believe my life has meaning. I didn’t always believe that. However, stuff has happened to me and things have transpired that allowed me to glimpse a little something beyond what is normal in life, to witness the ultimate purpose to why I am here and to uncover my mission here in this world.
I must admit, earlier in my life, I didn’t have much of a clue. Things didn’t start out so great. My father’s physical, verbal and emotional abuse was not a good start. My personality disorder made life difficult. I suffered from epilepsy, too. The teasing and bullying at school didn’t help either. The day I held the hand of the girl I cared about while she made out with someone else didn’t bode well. Hating myself at 13 years old wasn’t good. Being homeless for two nights at 30 years old wasn’t great either. Being “friend zoned” by a porn star when I was working on a cruise ship didn’t do much for my self-esteem.
I’ve met other people who, if they had suffered what I have, would have given up years ago. I’ve met people who are all too willing to throw in the towel and say, “What’s the use? Life sucks.”
However, I say they weren’t paying attention to the details. They didn’t have an “attitude of gratitude.” My father didn’t kill me. My epilepsy stopped. I did have two friends in primary school. I am the only one in the love triangle who didn’t get fired. At age 13, I started making plans for my life. When I was on the streets, my girlfriend still loved me. Having had experience of “bad girls,” I now love women intensely.
Most of all, I always had a dream. Plus, most of them time, I have had at least one plan in place to achieve my dreams. I always keep moving forward. I’m positive. I’m a good guy. I have to be. With all these bad things happening, the only alternative to being a good guy was to join the dreary crowd eking out a living, trudging to work. I didn’t want to join them.
It felt scary. It also looked unbelievably miserable. Secretly, I was frightened. Frightened of being thought of as a bad person, frightened to face the intolerance of others, frightened that this was all life had to offer. I wanted to be different and I wanted to feel special. So I had a dream.
I was studying media at college with quite a cool crowd of teenagers and twenty-something mature students. The eldest was 34. I enjoyed my time with them but occasionally, I would feel like something wasn’t quite right. There was the odd off-colour remark or pointed and snide comments. Media and journalist types – always trying to look cool, yet rather cynical about the world. You can’t be too gullible when you’re a news reporter, huh?
I was at an all-night party at the house of one of my fellow students when Mike came up to me while I was sitting quietly in the back garden having a beer. We talked some chit-chat for a few minutes. Now Mike was a cool dude, quite chill and laid-back, and spent most of the time trying to seduce the girls in the class. I mentioned how I sometimes felt not entirely “in with the crowd” and that I didn’t think I was too popular. He replied, “Do you want to know why everybody hates you, Oliver?”
I looked at his face carefully to check for signs of rejection. I was surprised to find there weren’t any. So, with some hesitation, I said, “Well, OK, go on, tell me.”
“It’s because you’ve still got it.”
“Still got what?” I asked.
“The light, man,” he explained. “You’ve still got the light in your eyes. You’ve still got a dream. You still hope. The others,” he continued, looking over his shoulders at the rest of the crowd behind him, “They’ve already lost it. They know they’ve lost it. When they see you, they still see hope in your eyes. It reminds them of what they lost. They don’t like being reminded, so they resent you for it. That’s why they hate you for it. They had a dream once, but for whatever reason, something happened and they felt they had to drop it. You’ve still got it. Always keep it, man. Don’t worry about these guys. Just keep as you are. Always keep the light, man. Never lose it.” Then he wandered off. I have always remembered his words to this day and they make me feel better when I feel judged or criticized by others.
Some people, when their childhood dreams don’t come true, replace it with a smaller one. Totally unnecessary – why not just get another one the same size, or even bigger?
Later, I met some “bad” people. I didn’t copy their behaviour. I didn’t do what they did. I stayed a good guy; but we hung out. There was the homeless dude in Freeport, Bahamas, the South African man who ran naked through the streets of London at 10pm. Another time I drank frozen margaritas with a former Colombian bounty hunter, there was the porn star I mentioned, there was the bisexual woman who had sex with 3 men in one night just because she felt sad, there was the hot Brazilian babe who invited me to samba with her under the stars, there was the guy who smoked weed, there was the time I tried a cigarette (I didn’t like it), there was the love triangle. Why did God give me these seemingly random experiences? I just put it down to “stuff happens,” you know?
Later still, I got married, had a son and became a high school teacher. My teens started out as very cute, innocent kids but then they started experimenting with shisha, smoking, drinking, underage sex, teen pregnancy, weed, viewing pornography, depression and “I hate myself” issues. I suddenly found that my “random” experiences were now useful to others – I could advise them better than any other teacher and could now try to bring them out of the difficulties in which they found themselves into a new life that was better. A life where they don’t feel judged by someone older than them but rather talk to someone who has “been there,” survived and come out the other side, to a better place.
In retrospect, I now believe that nearly everything that has happened to me has happened for a reason, which makes me believe that it can’t be just me. I believe that things happen for a reason in the lives of everyone. However, there are some who are so focused on the here and now that they don’t allow themselves time to take a step back and review the “big picture” to find out what these experiences mean. Also, those without a religious belief may also find it harder to believe life has a purpose, since believing that things happen for a reason strongly suggest the existence of a master plan arranged by Someone bigger, higher and more powerful than they are. Finally, believing life has purpose assumes a basically positive view of human existence, which is an attitude that, sadly, not everyone shares.
So Divine Providence is that tendency for created things to develop to their fullest capacity by bending towards the greatest good, Who is God. My life is a testament to that and yours can be too, if you maintain a positive attitude, reflect on the meaning of individual events and keep an eye on the “big picture” of your life.
In doing so, you can make all your dreams come true!