We have all experienced times in our lives that, at the time, feel bad. Maybe they feel really bad or even hopeless. Sometimes it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
A lot of us feel that way right now. Maybe your business is closed or you lost your job. Maybe you are sick or know someone who is. To suggest that any of this could be good might even feel insulting. I don't mean to lessen the pain that anyone is feeling right now. I too am struggling with the closure of my fitness studio and with my husband's heightened exposure as a firefighter paramedic.
The thing is, in the moment, we can't possibly know what events will be "good" and what events will be "bad." It's not until the end of the book of our lives that the different chapters will make sense.
Maybe you've experienced this truth in your life already. Can you remember a time where you were going through something that seemed so bad at the moment but that now seems like a blessing in disguise?
The following ancient Chinese parable demonstrates this principle perfectly, and it goes something like this:
An old farmer lives on his farm with his teenage son. He also has a beautiful stallion that he cares for lovingly. The farmer enters his stallion into the annual country fair competition. His stallion wins first prize. The farmer’s neighbors gather to congratulate him on this great win. He calmly says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
Puzzled by this reaction, the neighbors go away. The next week, some thieves who heard about the stallion’s increased value steal the horse away. When the neighbors come to commiserate with the farmer, they find him again very calm and gathered. He says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
Several days later, the spirited stallion escapes from the thieves and finds his way back to the farm, bringing with him a few wild mares he has befriended along the way. To his neighbors’ excited rounds of congratulations, the old farmer once again says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
A few weeks later, the farmer’s son is thrown off one of these new mares as he is trying to break it in and his leg is fractured. As the neighbors gather to commiserate with the old farmer, he once again reminds them, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
The following week, the imperial army marches through the village, conscripting all eligible young men for the war that has just broken out. They spare the old farmer’s son because of his fractured leg. The neighbors no longer bother to come to the old farmer to congratulate him. By now they know what his response will be: “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”
We will get through this pandemic as a nation and as a global community. Maybe this will be the event that awakens people, that gives perspective about what really matters in life. After all, who knows what is good and what is bad?
But, I know that I will be looking for the good, and I encourage you to do that too. When my dad passed when I was young, it felt really bad. Today, I can tell you it is one of the single greatest things to have shaped my life. To realize my own mortality at a young age was a gift--I just didn't know it at the time. I realized how precious was my life was, and that is what inspires me today to help people get off auto-pilot and live a life of their dreams.