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February 27, 2018 | Charlotte Donlon
At the end of the preface to Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, she writes:
I wish this were a different kind of story. But this is a book about befores and afters and how people in the midst of pain make up their minds about the eternal questions: Why? Why is this happening to me? What could I have done differently? Does everything actually happen for a reason? If I accept that what is happening is something I cannot change, can I learn how to let go?
And then she delivers on that statement throughout the rest of her book about her experiences with cancer. Bowler writes about how sometimes Christians get it wrong. When we offer formulas for life, when we believe everything will work out the way we want it to if we do our part, and when we think we are the ones in control, we are off base. If we think we have figured out how to make things work so our expectations are met and so we can avoid pain and brokenness, we are off base. Bowler sums it up nicely when she says, “We want to tell ourselves a story—any story—so we can get back to certainty.”
Bowler learns through her circumstances, through God’s grace, and through the advice of a dear friend, that living in the present moment open to what God has for her is the only way to make it through difficulty. Her friend tells her,
“We’re all terminal,” he says simply, and it answers my unspoken question. How do you stop? You just stop. You come to the end of yourself. And then you take a deep breath. And say a prayer. And get back to work.
So Bowler learns this lesson and more because she is living a life open to God, regardless of what she might be dealing with during any specific season. She learns God doesn’t disappear when life is hard. He’s present. And He’s good.
Charlotte lives in Homewood with her husband and their two children. She’s earning an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University, and she does freelance writing and copywriting. You can find her online at www.charlottedonlon.com, on Twitter at @charlottedonlon, and on Instagram at @charlottedonlon. You can sign up for her weekly email newsletter about reading, writing, and creativity via her website at charlottedonlon.com. Email newsletter subscribers are invited to participate in book giveaways, too. Feel free to contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!