My wife and I just went to see the film, An Interview with God. It was a good movie and I really enjoyed the intellectual banter and discourse between the reporter and the man claiming to be God. The plot of the movie is simple: A journalist conducts three interviews in three days with a man claiming to be God — The God, in the Judeo-Christian sense.
So this reporter spends three days asking God questions about the world, about theology, and about God Himself. But in nearly every conversation, the topic turns to the life of the reporter. Thus, as the interviews progress, the reporter struggles with his on introspective context rather than his objective journalistic context.
This film, of course, is intended to (among other things) prompt the viewer to ask him/herself, “What would I ask God?”
After the film (and before the end credits), there was a three-person discussion, talking about the many themes of the film and how they relate to the Christian faith. But the first thing they did was mention the #1 question people would ask God: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The movie almost immediately addresses this question when the reporter, Paul, points out that when people ask this question, they don’t mean, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” What they really mean is “Why do bad things happen to me?” because most people consider themselves to be subjectively and/or contextually “good.”
I think this is absolutely the wrong question to ask God. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. In the end, it’s a wash. It’s all one big hand of Blackjack, and in when all the cards are on the table, it’s always a push. There is no more good or bad that happens to good or bad people. Things simply happen.
My high school track coach, Steve Sell, used to often say, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
This is 100% accurate. And I must shamefully admit, I have not reacted well.
As I’ve written on many occasions, I was sexually assaulted when I was 18-years-old. As I’ve learned through hundreds of hours of therapy and treatment, this one event was the catalyst for much of my destructive behavior for over a decade. And yet, while I understand the intellectual and psychological basis for this observation, I have never “blamed” it for what I did.
I always had a choice — and more-often-than-not, it was the wrong choice. Nothing made me make the choices I made. I simply made terrible, destructive, hurtful choices.
Here’s the thing: People would ask God these broad big-picture questions about “people” and “things” and “life,” hoping for some all-knowing and all-inclusive answer. But wouldn’t God be disappointing if He actually had one simplistic answer for all of that? I understand and appreciate that “people,” “things,” and “life” can be complicated and complex — because it is! Life is a complicated and complex mosaic, and everyone is in it. Everyone is a pixel in the all-inclusive graphic of existence; everyone is a photo in the grand mosaic of life.
So, rather than asking these grand abstract questions, we should be asking specific and individualized questions. We are all a photo in the mosaic, so we need to make sure our own photo — our own pixel, our own life — is kept well, kept clear, and kept clean. And if the picture or pixel next to us looks like it’s beginning to fade or flicker or crumple, it is our responsibility to bring a little light, a little color, and a little comfort to the faces we see every day.
And sometimes that is as simple as doing the next right thing.
So, what would I ask God? This: “What do I need to do — me specifically — so that I can be a better me and improve the lives of those around me?”
Because the truth is, the answer to that question is different for everyone.
Let’s not tear people down. Let’s not ridicule one another. Let’s not bring pain into other people’s lives. All that does is damage the grand mosaic; all that does is remove the beauty from life.
We’ve all been hurt by someone — I am still struggling with being able to forgive the person who violated me in the summer of 1998, and that was over twenty years ago — but I have learned that I have much more inner-peace and am able to find happiness by moving forward, into the future, making our world a better place.
There are things in this world I’ve broken and will never be able to fix. I will never be able to un-cheat on my wife. For the rest of our marriage — for the rest of our lives — I will be a husband who was unfaithful. But when I made the destructive choices which hurt her and others, she made the choice to forgive. She chose love. She chose forgiveness. She chose our family. She chose me.
She is the most beautiful piece of life’s grand mosaic.