Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Chaos Theory and a Little Frog

A professor once explained the Chaos Theory like this:

"Imagine your bedroom. It can be messy a million different ways, but it can only be clean one way. The reason life is so messy is because statistically speaking, it's just more likely."

When Froggy was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and then a seizure disorder, I questioned "why." It's natural to feel there is a reason for suffering, a greater purpose for the pain we experience. And I've never truly made peace with it all. But the chaos theory gives me a kind of comfort that more conventional methods of dealing with "why bad stuff happens to good people" do not. For some reason, the randomness of it all, the complete powerlessness, the "no rhyme or reason" mentality makes me feel like, "hey, it's nothing personal." And strangely, that makes sense. It's not God picking on us, or making our family an example like Job, it's just the chaotic way of things. It is simply more likely that things goes wrong, than right.

I don't know exactly what I DO believe, but I'll tell you what I don't. And maybe the truth will find itself somewhere between those lines.

I don't believe that we were chosen to be Froggy's parents, or that Froggy chose us as Mom and Dad. I don't believe that God has a plan for us. I don't believe that, because if I did, I would also have to believe that children choose crackheads and sadists as their parents, that God places babies with tweekers and prostitutes to make a point. I don't believe in Karma or reincarnation, or the idea that FD and I are paying for our past life mistakes. I definitely do not believe that Froggy has willed this disease into her life because of negative thinking or as lesson for her soul to grow. I don't believe that I am being tested, or that Froggy has entered our lives because of divine intervention to teach us selfless love.

I have considered all of these possibilities. But have come to the conclusion that FD and I are carriers of a CF gene that we passed onto our child. She had a one in four chance of being born with our recessive gene, and unfortunately, she was. I think she has a seizure disorder because she fell on her forehead and suffered damage to her frontal lobe. I happen to believe that all of these things happened because they didn't "not" happen. It is life happening to us. And how we deal with it is our choice.

I understand that people need to find a reason or purpose for "bad things" but I simultaneously question why we don't feel the need to find purpose behind the positive. Why are we worthy of only good, and horrified with the negative? Why do we say, "why me God?" as if others are somehow deserving of our pain.

I don't doubt that we have grown for having Froggy in our lives, that because of adversity we are living a rich, joyful life that will challenge us in ways we never thought possible. And I believe that God smiles every time we turn sorrow into meaningful joy. But I believe in a hands-off God, who empathizes, without orchestrating. He's like a therapist who sits there and says, "And how does that make you feel?" But to say he chooses our circumstances would suggest that he picks favorites. And that seems more like Jr. High than divinity.

I believe that we are better for having Froggy in our lives, for embracing the chaos that naturally comes with parenthood. It's a risk, a beautiful, scary, sad and lovely risk. It's life. And I guess I'm okay with that.


DutchMac said...

One day, you have to promise to spare a little of your grace and integrity and send it this direction, ok? If I were to revert to our 'It's so cool to imitate SNL' high school days, I would bow down to you and chant 'We are not worthy!'

But I won't revert, so you'll just have to pretend. :-)


Angela said...

Ditto - I think your philosophy about this makes so much sense. Have I mentioned before how much I love reading your blog?? :) I

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker here... Just wanted to say that I agree with your theory. I worked at a nonprofit that helped Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans and other affected areas. What makes me irritated with the whole "The Secret" thing is that it insinuates that those people somehow attracted the freakin' hurricane. No, sorry, it's called a natural disaster. I have since come to the conclusion, as I've gone through my own personal disaster, a divorce with a 2 year-old, that it's not what happens to you, but how you deal with what happens to you that matters the most. All we can do is muster as much grace as possible.
You are an amazing writer, thank you!

Mieke said...

Elise, that is beautiful and perfectly articulated. It's hard when bad things happen to good people not to try to find some "hidden meaning," I know a lot of people have said a lot of versions of what you don't believe to you. I wonder if it's because they want to say something - anything to ease the weight of this and they lack any other means of expression. You are right, sometimes life just is.

Infidel Rooster said...

Beautifully written.

Casey said...

Wow. This is powerful, thought inducing stuff. Thank you.

Amy B said...

Elise, you are my hero.

Anonymous said...

That made such perfect sense to me that I got chills and tears in my eyes. Seriously. And I agree 100%. It is easy to say this happend for a reason, but then how does that explain all the bad stuff in the world.

This happened. I'm a carrier. My kid has cf. It happened becaude it didn't NOT happen. Yep. Those are the words I've been searching for for 2 1/2 years. Thank you.

You have a new fan. I'll be lurking. I know you a little from, but this site is amazing. I wish I had time to blog. Maybe once the school year wraps up. In the mean time, some of the hits you get each week will be from me.

Thanks for articulating this. I can't beleive how nice it is to have words to frame my thinking with, now.

Izemmom on
mom to Emily 29 months, w/cf

Froggymama said...

Thanks everyone.