I read a quote the other day that said something like..."God punishes us mildly by not answering our prayers and severely by answering them." It reminded me of the movie Out of Africa, when Meryl Streep's character, Isak Dinesen says, "When God wants to punish us, he answers our prayers." I don't wholeheartedly agree with this. How does this sit with you?
Isak says this morose statement when her love interest decides that he will finally keep some of his "things" at her house, thereby, in her mind making the commitment to her that she's been waiting for. This decision, along with a million other tiny little ones will lead to her broken heart when her lover cannot be tamed the way she wants him to be and ultimately by his death in the end when she says at his graveside, "he was not ours, he was not mine." What she means by this and has finally realized, in my opinion, is that we can never own another human being with our love and should not want to. Thich Nhat Hanh has a quote, "you must love in a way that the person you love feels free." And this is what Denys, Isak's lover, knew to be true for himself. However, Denys was Isak's as much as he could be anybody's, he did truly love her at least from the movie p.o.v...I didn't know them personally! (p.s. I am a hopeless romantic at heart. The theme music is currently playing in my head.)
This movie, based on the real life story of Isak Dinesen who wrote Out of Africa and many other pieces of fine literature is absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful.
Back to my opening quote, I don't believe in this God who punishes us by answering our prayers. I don't like this idea at all. Some may say that's naive and that I don't have to like it. I say to them, fine. (arms crossed, slightly irritated at being called naive.) But I believe that God knows that we must grow and in order to grow sometimes we will have to experience pain. It is the only way. As Rumi says, "the wound is the place where the light enters."
There are a million little "coincidences" that put you where you are and in front of who you interact with every day. We choose, whether you believe by grand design or by accident where and what and who every day. Obviously, we could have chosen differently (or could we?). The what if factor. But we chose what we chose..... and now here we are. Learning, growing and becoming. Life isn't always easy...but it is exactly those low points in the road that allow us to become stronger, to know ourselves, to find our true center. So, if that is punishment...I'll take it. None of us really want a challenge, a heartbreak, a death, a breakup, a job loss, etc... but it is how we deal with these parts of life that truly allow us to find that inner gem that can shine so so brightly when we are clear and the light hits us.