Por Guadalupe Fernández Mehle.
My mother has a saying, for when things begin to go south, that always comforts me: “God squeezes, but He never strangles.” It gives me comfort for two reasons: The first one, and the less surprising, is that I believe it to be true. But, for this to be true, God would have to have an actual plan for us. And that stand, which for me is self-evident, has to be one of the most questioned ideas in history.
So one may read this and ask: What is self-evident? That God wants us to suffer, to kill each other, to hate? Or they could ask, as Brother Juniper concludes, if His big plan is for good people to die and bad ones to live. Well, I cannot answer those questions. Maybe, for some reason that is beyond us, He does and it is. But here comes the second reason why I like my mother’s saying. She’s not blaming God for the bad things in her life; she’s doing the exact opposite: giving them a purpose. She has faith in His love and knows that, whatever He throws at her, she can handle it, and her life will be better after that.
Let’s suppose, just for a second, that God doesn’t have a plan, that He couldn’t care less about what happens with our lives, or, even better, let’s pretend He doesn’t exist at all. Now we would have to attribute everything in our lives, either to randomness, or to some sort of thing that has a plan, but it’s not God. How can everything just be random? How can it have no meaning at all? Isn’t it sad to believe that we suffer and enjoy just because life is like that and it doesn’t mean anything?
Do I dare to do that? No. When I look at my life, every decision I have made and their consequences, good and bad, I see the order in them, the harmony. And I also see my inability to sufficiently explain why I chose that way and not the other, when I easily could’ve had. Being a person that likes to plan and to have everything resolved with years in advance, and knowing that I cannot predict every single consequence of my acts, or the acts of those around me, my only consolation is my faith in God and in His plan; and I can only hope to fulfill it as best as I can.
Now this last sentence gives me a starting point for what I want to talk about next. Not everyone, necessarily, fulfills God’s plan. Someone could say: some people get strangled. If nobody did, then no one would commit suicide, and many people do.
So, does this mean that God makes mistakes? That some times He squeezes too hard? I don’t think so. As my favorite book – John Steinbeck’s East of Eden – always reminds me, we have free will. We can choose whether we want to follow the plan or not. As I see its not an imperative but a guidance. Everyday we have to choose to keep living, to keep trying to find out what God created us for, and to make of it the best we can. However, we could, just as easily, choose otherwise, He won’t stop us.
He lets us part from His plan, not because he doesn’t care, but because that choice that we have is what gives meaning to our lives. If we were mere puppets doing His every bidding mechanically, because we have to, and not because we want to, then we would never grow or evolve. Because God loves us, He gives us this opportunity, to try to be more perfect, more like him.
At the beginning of this essay, I said that, for me, the fact that God has a plan is self-evident. Then why isn’t it for everybody else? Well, I’m sure there are many reasons, but I want to address one of them, that I belive is the cause of all the rest: the fact that we can’t fully understand God’s plan.
I could seat here for the rest of the day, for the rest of the week, or for the rest of my life and ask myself: why did God want all the people that were on the bridge of San Luis Rey when it fell to die? And I will never find the answer. Because for that, I would have to be able to see the plan as a hole. How can I, a limited human being, that has lived for only twenty-one years, in a tiny part of a world that has existed and executed God’s plan for thousands of years, and will keep existing after I’m dead – probably – comprehend all of it? I could read every book ever written and it still wouldn’t be enough.
If we accept that its His intention, His plan, and not ours; that His reasons go way beyond our comprehension, and stick to what we can do, which is to try to be good and keep our eyes open for the signs He sends us, we may some day find the true meaning of our lives.
Life has good things and bad things. Why? I do not know. But one thing I do know is that, as hard as God squeezes me, He will never strangle me, and something better is always waiting for me, if not in this life, in the next.