“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~Michelangelo Buonarroti

We’ve all asked ourselves, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

And truly, why do they? Why should they?

Why do terrible, tragic, and life-altering events have to happen to us in our lives, and why do they happen to good people who are always trying their best to do the right thing? Why the injustice?

Although every human being is individually unique and the circumstances of how we are brought into this world when we are born vary quite greatly, we all come into life as equals as spiritual beings. In other words, we are each born as the spiritual equivalent to a fresh block of stone. Life is our mason; it shapes a statue of who and what we become, underneath.

The Certainty of Choice

One way to begin to understand and ultimately come to grip with the fact that bad things occur to good people is to understand the nature of life: spanning both the consequences of the decisions we make and forces forever outside of our control, like a mason that shapes and helps influence who we become.

This is not to say that outside forces exclusively influence who we become. I think it is clear that in our lives, we each possess the ability to make choices. In free countries and societies, we have more freedom to make choices and influence the direction of our lives. In closed societies and oppressed nations, men and women possess less free choice than we in free lands, but as human beings, we all retain the ability to think, make decisions and make choices.

So long as choice is involved (and with human beings there is always Choice), we have the ability to shape our lives and who we become on the inside, to varying degrees. We make choices when we decide between which car to buy or which college to attend, and our lives are directly impacted and forever changed by those decisions. When something occurs to us outside of our control — we get into a fender bender, we contract an illness, we get laid off from work — although the event was not directly chosen by us, we can still choose how to react to the event:

  • In a car accident, we could assault the other driver in a fit of road rage, or remain calm.
  • We can choose to fight the illness we have contracted and change our lifestyle to better combat it, or choose to not do so.
  • If we are laid off, we can lose all hope and feel like a victim, or choose to take advantage of the new opportunity to find a better job that will make us happier and more fulfilled.

The Statue Beneath the Stone

During the duration of our lives, events take place — some outside of our control, some directly resulting from the decisions we make — that cause life to makes swings and takes chips out of us, which shape us into who we ultimately become, like a statue lying deep beneath the stone. Between what we choose and what we do not choose, our lives act like masons and shape the solid block of stone into a statue underneath: a completely unique, special individual who offers the world something that no one else can.

Sometimes, life clubs off a large shard as with the loss of a loved one, battling a severe illness or by way of a terrible trauma. Other times, our block of stone receives just a nick, a slight cut or chip, like from a minor learning experience in our youth or being exposed to others’ terrible living conditions in developing countries on the news.

So when we are making decisions every day, as well as encountering events that occur outside of our control, begin to pay close attention to how you react and how your decisions might influence life to take either a small chip or large chunk off of your individual block of stone. If a small incident occurs unto you, let it be but a small chip off of your block, and choose to not let it become a large crack that forever changes your life and who you become. Between the decisions we make, the events that occur in life and how we choose to react to them, life shapes who we ultimately become — the statue beneath the stone.