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How did I get here??

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!
 - Talking Heads, Once In a Lifetime

I met a woman - a lovely Catholic mom of a large family - whose son had committed a horrendous crime.  She told me that as the reality sank in, "I could not have been more surprised than if I had gotten up one morning and my whole family had been turned into giraffes."

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever sat and looked at your life - a life you may have thoughtfully and prayerfully "put together" - and wondered,  "How did I get here?  How did THIS (whatever the "this" might be) happen?  I did A, B and C....and yet...I got THIS.  HOW, God, how?"

You're in good company.  Look at the Bible:  Noah, Ruth, Jonah.  Joseph (both Old and New Testament), Paul.  Think of the saints: Katherine Drexel, Damien of Molokai, Bernadette of Lourdes.  All of them must have said at least once:  HOW did I get here??  How did this become my life??

We live under a delusion - a lovely delusion, but a delusion none-the-less - that if we follow some set of cosmic rules and game plan, we will get "rewarded".  Our reward will be the perfect life we have planned.  We will follow the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Church, and all our children will grow to be healthy, shining examples of Catholic education, showering us with grandchildren and respect into our old age. We will be respected by all who work with us and see our magnificent work ethic.  Our home will always be clean.  We - and all we love - will die a peaceful, happy, painfree death at a very old age.

What we don't count on or expect is the hurricane.  Or cancer.  Or an addiction.  A lost job. A tragic death. Bills that can't get paid. An affair. Pick a nightmare, any nightmare:  one is gonna show up.

We can spend a lot of time asking why bad things happen to good people.  We can spend a lot of time asking why me, and trying to figure it out.  We can...but there is no satisfactory answer this side of Heaven.  Bad things happen, good people suffer, God - for reasons we do not know - permits.  And we must struggle on.

There is probably no more clear example of this than the Book of Daniel.  Besides Daniel (who finds himself literally surrounded by lions - hello!), you've got three righteous young men who incur the wrath of a mad man and end up getting tossed into a furnace.  But what's the lesson, in the midst of "How did I end up here" from the Book of Daniel?  The lesson is to pray and praise and trust in God:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
for wisdom and power are his.
He causes the changes of the times and seasons,
establishes kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who understand.
He reveals deep and hidden things
and knows what is in the darkness,
for the light dwells with him.
To you, God of my ancestors,
I give thanks and praise..."
  - Daniel 2: 20-23

Clearly, when we are in crisis, this is not an easy prayer to pray.  But it is an essential prayer to pray.  It reminds us that - no matter how frivolous, how fruitless, how capricious things seem - God is good.  God is near.  While we may be wondering, "How did I get here??", we have to at least know that God is right next to us.  He might not lead us directly out of the chaos, but He won't ever leave us there to face it alone.


  1. You put into words well regarding "why me?". Thank you.

  2. All I can say is, "Been there, doing that."


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