Friday, October 12, 2012

Is There Always Meaning?

My preferred theoretical orientation in psychotherapy is existential, especially in line with Viktor Frankl's logotherapy (meaning through therapy or therapy through meaning). I find meaning very important in my personal life, as well. I don't see a reason to keep going and live without meaning. In one of my classes, we discussed different creation explanations (from young earth to secular evolution). One of my issues with the randomness principle in evolution is that if everything really is random, then what purpose is there in life? Why would I want to continue living?

Ultimately, I have faith that there is meaning. I assume there is a reason, a purpose, behind everything, even if I cannot ever figure it out. That is not the same as saying that God is responsible for everything that happens. I'm not an uber-Calvinist, like Piper (see some of my other posts on that :) ). But I do firmly believe that God works good through all things (as in Romans 8:28). This is a way of finding meaning.

However, I've had some struggles with that lately. From our first failed adoption, we lost some money (a good chunk more now that we had to hire a second lawyer for our current match). At the same time, we soothed ourselves by recognizing the failed match could have been far worse (and it's definitely true). Yet I still struggle finding the meaning in that. What good came of it?

I'm associating meaning with good coming out of the situation. Is that always the case? Perhaps it's an incorrect connection. Although I find meaning good.

The only thing I can come up with is that the mom hopefully experienced some love and grace from us. It was really complete loss for us, but if she needed that incarnational love, then there was meaning and good.

Another situation that has had me thinking along these terms is getting scammed with a home repair. Very long story short, we had our air ducts replaced (I do think that was needed). But now the company is failing to honor its warranty. It looks like they're a complete scam, lying about licensure, etc. Actually, the state contractors license board is going after them.

So human legal justice may be done (although I doubt we'll get our large amount paid to them back). But is there meaning? Legal justice doesn't provide meaning. And it doesn't promise "good." What good can come of this situation?

One thing that hit me in the last few days was that perhaps these people really needed the money more than us. While we're not rolling in the dough, most Americans are in the top 1% of the world's income, as our pastor noted this Sunday. We can pay the bills, which I am thankful for. While it was not the right way to get money, some people are desperate. Perhaps this was a way of feeding a child. Although I don't want this "company" taking advantage of others in the future.

I think in both of these cases, God is also teaching me to rely on him more to have faith that we will be financially taken care of. Money has been tight, especially with our adoption. Yet I keep getting adjunct teaching jobs (I've had to turn some down). We haven't had to skip a mortgage payment or even be late. Yet I'm still worried we won't be able to pay for everything. I think there's validity in the concern, but frequently worrying about finances is no way to live. Perhaps the meaning and good is God helping take that pressure off of me (it's not gone yet :) ).

Or perhaps some things are just random, crappy, and due to a fallen world. Maybe there isn't "good" meaning in everything.

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