When Bad Things Happen For Good People

August 28, 2019


 You know that old saying “Bad things happen to good people?”

    I used to believe that!

    7 years ago I thought a bad thing happened to my good husband when he got leukemia. After months of treatment, a good thing happened when he had a donor come through for a bone marrow transplant. Those years of treatment and the aftermath of it, was the hardest chapter of our lives with the most amazing blessings that came from it, so was any of it really bad?

    I have since learned that there are no GOOD things or BAD things, they are just THINGS.

    It is our THOUGHTS about these things that make them good or bad.

    The circumstance itself is totally neutral.

    These past few weeks we have been going through a thing. Some may call it bad or difficult, but I am discovering that this challenge is a neutral thing that is happening FOR me and not TO me.

    3 weeks ago my husband, Willie, got what we thought was the flu. He had classic flu symptoms, but with severe abdominal pain that wouldn’t let up.  We suspected gallstones, appendicitis or a bowel blockage and went to our local ER for assessment. After a few pushes on his belly and a bag of saline they sent us home saying it was viral.

    Fast forward through 5 days of continued symptoms and we found ourselves in the ER again. This time we had a concerned doctor who took scans diagnosing a bowel blockage that would need surgery. 

Because our local hospital is not equipped for surgery this meant we would need to be transferred out. Stanford was our first choice because his team of doctors is there and Willie has received all of his medical treatments under their care. They have put over 2 million dollars worth of medical care into this guy so we wanted to stay with them.

    But, they were full and not accepting any patients.

    We tried other local hospitals, but no one had a bed available. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning they found an opening in a hospital 2 hours away and he was taken there by ambulance as I followed behind in our car.

    To any of you who followed our cancer journey, this is EXACTLY the same story that kicked off his transplant: We went to the ER for a seemingly simple diagnosis, then I ended up following an ambulance with my husband loaded inside of it to a hospital that would become our new home for months!

    My brain had a heyday with this, telling me how the same thing was going to happen again; that I would have to leave our 3 year old parent-less for months; that we were stepping into the same, overwhelming, trial that I thought was behind us.

    These thoughts are really scary and led me into feelings of panic and uncertainty until I reeled myself back in with a very important realization:

    They are just THOUGHTS!

    Our thoughts are what lead to feelings in our body. That is the physical response to what is going on in our brains. In this case, I had a thought that I was heading back into trauma and I felt it as a tightening in my gut and rapid beating of my heart which I call panic.

    My thought, made me feel panicked!

    This understanding is HUGE because the circumstance has nothing to do with it! It didn’t matter that I was following an ambulance carrying my husband to a distant hospital for an unknown outcome. It was my THOUGHTS about this event that created the feelings of discomfort.

    It was in that moment that I made a very simple decision:

    This event was happening FOR me, not TO me!

    I can’t even begin to describe the empowerment that comes in changing our thoughts. When I re-framed this event as something that will benefit and teach me, the feelings of dread and fear disappeared and I wasn’t so focused on the outcome.

    Because here’s the truth: I have no control over the outcome anyway!

    We have been in the hospital in Ukiah for 2 weeks now and Willie has been through the ringer of treatments. He hasn’t been allowed to eat or drink anything for 2 weeks while they were trying a non-invasive approach to rest the bowel and allow the blockage to pass naturally.  That wasn’t successful so he finally had surgery on Sunday where they removed a foot of his small intestines and discovered a tumor blocking the bowel. We are awaiting results on the biopsy of the tumor and hoping for a positive outcome, but even if it’s not what I personally want, I know that I don’t have to stress and worry about it because it is happening FOR me.

    For me:

  • To strengthen my faith
  • Create greater bonds in our extended family
  • Appreciate my husband
  • Feel gratitude for my own health
  • Feel overwhelming joy and appreciation for my son (who we miss like crazy!)
  • See the abundance of love and willingness to serve from family and friends
  • Appreciate the love and prayers coming from our friends and the community (THANK YOU!!)
  • Recognize the hand of God moving in our lives.


    I stand with the apostle Paul in his decree:

Romans 8:28 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God

    Take note, this scripture doesn’t promise that we will be without trial or challenges, but it states that our love of God provides us with a good outcome.

    And what is a “good” outcome?

    That depends on our thoughts!


    All things have been working out for our good in this circumstance because they are working FOR us and not TO us.

    I invite you to look at your current struggle and assess how it is happening FOR you.

    What does this circumstance have to teach you?

    With all of this in mind, I will suggest a small revision to the old adage:

    Bad things don’t happen to good people,

    Bad things happen FOR good people!