There is no such thing as life’s “Silver Lining.”
My husband and I have moved in with my parents until September. That’s not my anti-silver lining point… My parents are visiting family in Texas and we are watching my mom’s favorite child, Max – a Bernese Mountain dog a little larger than a minivan. He is old and smelly. Like most minivans.
This morning my husband took our son Memphis downstairs to eat breakfast while I got ready for work. Shortly after, I heard him yelling, “THERE’S POOP AND PUKE EVERYWHERE.” Quickly and to my utter relief, Jon brought me Memphis and returned downstairs to clean.
Do you remember the scene from Jurassic Park where they’re taking Triceratops samples? If you happen to be the proud owner of a dog the size of a minivan, and they get sick in your house this is what you can look forward to. I did not take pictures but it could be seen clearly from space.
This was the only time I’ve ever wished my parents took home a vulgar Chihuahua instead of Max.
Silver Lining Myth No.1: There is a lesson in pain that makes life fair again.
A silver lining is an act of nature. Rain + Clouds = Silver Linings. Therefore, there must be a positive outcome to every trauma that restores balance.
Trauma + Life Lesson = Return to Balance.
Sometimes there’s a lesson, but don’t confuse silver linings with consequences. Have you ever done something dumb and heard your mother say, “Now what did we learn from this experience?” There is a lesson. The lesson is you’re an adult and should not be living in your mother’s house. The consequence is being in her house to hear her say it.
Life is messy and ugly and many times bad things happen for no reason. Mothers lose their babies. Children are orphaned. Fires burn down homes. 100 lb Bernese Mountain Dogs lose it all over your carpet and some misguided souls actually own chihuahuas as pets.
Silver Lining Myth No 2: It could have been worse.
Is the Silver Lining (that) there’s a bottom to Max’s stomach? If you break your leg, is the silver lining that you’re not dead? Or that you can commiserate with other people who have broken legs? Of course, all this is true. You now know what it’s like to have your leg broken and you’re not dead.
Pain + Worse Scenario that could have happened = NOT a silver lining.
Everything could always be worse and I don’t see how that’s any consolation. That’s being an optimist and optimists are annoying, bubbly morning people who own chihuahuas.
Redemption Is Real, Fairness Is Not.
“Well who says life is fair? Where is that written?” Princess Bride.
Pain is not like gravity; there’s no universal law where we must find fairness in pain. We can’t always find a reason bad things happen but I believe in the supernatural. God can bring something good out of every situation and restore any person. It was Jon’s response that turned our mess into an opportunity to help and strengthen our relationship. His decision to clean did not diminish the hardship, but redeemed me from bitterness. Or maybe in this scenario, Max’s life from my wrath.
We notice someone who has risen out of the ashes of their own poverty or hurt. When victims use their experience to become advocates, we watch in awe and read stories about their bravery. If these were entirely natural occurrences, why should we care?
As the great philosopher Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””
There’s no silver lining or natural law that restores our life back to balance. It’s the choices and relationships–God’s supernatural intervention through us–that defeat bitterness and redeem our stories.