Friday, January 21, 2005

Can we control our lives?

There is an old Yiddish saying that goes something like this: We make plans and then God laughs.

Somewhere along the way, most of us learn that life does not always go according to our plans. The lives we lead at 40, or 60, or 80, may not be quite the lives we had planned at age 20.

And sooner or later, life teaches us that no matter how tight our grip, we are not in control.
We get the lay off notice. A frightening diagnosis seems to come out of nowhere. We struggle with addiction and depression. We lose life partners to divorce or death. Children die.

Everyday living forces us to face the reality of suffering in this life. And this is perhaps life’s greatest spiritual struggle.

Our contemporary culture fosters the illusion that we can control our lives. Too often, we see life as a “problem” to be solved. And we treat human reason as an “all powerful god” that can end all pain. If we are smart enough, and work hard enough, and accumulate all the right “things,” we think we can “fix” whatever falls in our path, and life can be perfect.

Yet, no matter how smart we are, no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we have, life can fall apart, and we are left sitting amidst the pieces.

So, can we really control our lives?

Is destiny really in our hands?

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