Why are we here? Why do we have to deal with the crap that comes our way? What have we done to cause this?
A perspective that I have come to appreciate is, in short, that we are souls who have chosen to incarnate as humans to help us grow and learn.
This is a conscious choice that we make as souls.
Before we're born, we decide on an overview of our life. We understand and agree that our life will cover specific themes. Sometimes specific events, but all supporting us as we cover these themes.
Themes may include: self-love, knowing how to establish healthy boundaries with others, how to value ourselves more deeply, how to do things for ourselves without relying on others, or conversely how to ask others for help and realize we don't have to do it all ourselves.
Based on the theme or themes we have decided upon for ourselves this lifetime, we have certain experiences to aid us in mastering these lessons. Want to learn about setting healthy boundaries? You may have to learn how to manage helicopter parents or an abusive boyfriend. Want to learn about asking others for help? Maybe you'll end up with a crippling illness.
Of course, we forget all this pre-birth planning once we're born. We have to. If we know ahead of time the "problems" headed our way, they won't be as nearly as problematic, they won't cut nearly as deep and won't have the effect we need them to have for us to wake up and grow.
A question often asked when facing a recent tragedy is, "Why did this happen?" This is a great question to ask, as it seeks to understand the context for our immediate circumstances.
However, our attempts to answer this question can tend to assign blame or look for causation - what happened before this is clearly the reason why it happened, the rationale goes.
It is certainly wise to look at potential factors that contributed to the event that happened so we can learn, for instance, build our buildings out of fire-resistant materials instead of wood to prevent a devastating city-wide fire.
Yet if we look at the events which have transpired - a death or harrowing diagnosis, a personal assault or a political election - and seek to understand what we're able to learn from them, we empower ourselves.
Instead of seeing ourselves as victims of events that have happened to us, we can touch the perspective that these things happened for us to learn and grow.
And if we don't learn our lessons? Life will give us another opportunity to learn it again. History will repeat itself until we learn what we're here to learn.
A Personal Example
When I was 19, I was in a whitewater rafting accident. I fell overboard and got stuck in an eddy. Those few minutes were truly the most terrifying of my life.
After vigorously fighting with the currents to keep me afloat and alive, I ran out of energy - physical, mental, and emotional - and that was when the river brought me out of the eddy and to safety.
While I can blame myself for taking my foot out of the safety strap on the raft floor, or be mad at the world for creating such a trauma, I can see the deeper lessons in that. That was life, offering me lessons that I needed to learn: stop fighting the flow and you will be carried, trust in the greater energies around, and even about working so hard to please others (the minute before I fell overboard I had given my dad an incredibly fake smile indicating that I was having fun - I wasn't - because he had paid for this trip and I wanted him to feel like his money was well-spent).
I have since continued to receive opportunities to reinforce those messages (none as intense as that day). It's not that I didn't to my personal work then, but there's more to learn. These are life-long themes I'm here to study in my personal Soul School. So I will continue to have opportunities to learn the finer points of letting go and trusting Spirit and of finding a healthier balance of honoring my wants and needs and those of others.
Try It On
I'll invite you to try this perspective on for yourself. If you look at the rough experiences you've had (because how much we can we learn when things are going well is dwarfed by how much we can learn when we are troubled), how does this perspective fit? Instead of blaming others or yourself for what has happened, where is the wisdom you can gain? What lessons are you here to learn?