Part 4: What Are You… Reading – Finished: Everything Happens For a Reason

“What Are You…” explores finishing that sentence. Through this series I’ll be finishing those sentences with …singing…listening to…and reading, getting to share some of my favorite hymns, songs, music, bible stories, and authors.

What are you reading? Kate Bowler

I just finished reading Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” and it has been one of the most difficult and affirming read. Especially when reading it less than a month after my dad’s death. I found myself filled with tears as I relived moments throughout my dad’s hospitalization and death. And I felt a sense of belonging and hope in listening to Bowler read the audio version of her book.

Everything Happens for a Reason – Or not

Bowler’s writing through her experience of terminal cancer and researching the Prosperity Gospel brings out all the troubles one might find in tragedy and the church. People seek a reason for bad things happening. In Bowler’s experience and research, she regularly shares experiences of being told her injuries or cancer were somehow her fault. She’s told the reason she isn’t healing is because of her lack of faith or some past sin.

I’ve been lucky that no one tried to do that with me or my family. But I experienced the “Everything happens for a reason” kind of lines myself. From well-meaning people who care deeply for me and my family attempting to comfort us, to the way people seek understanding when terrible, sudden things happen. People look for a reason.

I had a nurse try adamantly to convince me that my dad must have had headaches. She even went so far as to make me feel the scars on her own scalp as proof of someone who had a brain tumor and so must know about the headaches.  It was as traumatizing as it sounds. I greatly appreciated Bowler’s honest and raw account of her experience, because so much of it echoed the experience of myself and my family.

Living in the midst of dying

I don’t want to reveal to much about Everything Happens, because I think it’s worth reading. (Maybe not as close to a loss as I did.) But what brought me the most joy and hope as I finished reading, was Bowler’s faith, her honesty, and her courage to live two months at a time.

My favorite chapter is when Bowler takes up cursing for Lent. Fair warning, it’s a chapter filled with swear words, but she so accurately describes the feeling of lament that we recognize during that pre-Easter season, after a chapter of tears I couldn’t stop laughing.

What are you reading right now? Who are your favorite Christian authors? What books do you turn to most frequently?

Pastor Megan