Book review: When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner

griefHarold S. Kushner, the author of this book, is a rabbi who had a son diagnosed with Progeria as a child and died shortly after his fourteenth birthday. Kushner struggled with the idea of believing in an all-powerful but fair God that allowed such tragedy to befall his family. After all, he was a rabbi who spent his life serving others in devotion to God. Kushner wrote this book to share his experience with others.

Kushner used several personal anecdotes to describe how different people deal with tragedy depending on their views of God. Particularly, he used examples of how people comfort friends and family members who might have experienced an accident or loss of a loved one. Some may try to comfort their friend by saying that God has a plan and purpose for everything. Kushner points out that this view is often hard for someone struck by tragedy to believe. How is it in God’s plan to take a young child from the mother? How is in God’s plan for me to never walk again? Sometimes it seems like the price we pay is so high to get to God’s plan. Other’s may say that God never gives us anything more than we can handle, but that makes it seem to the widow that her husband was killed because she was strong enough to bear it. Another view may be that the world is chaos and God is simply here to help us through life. People who have this belief turn to God in moments of grief in order to find strength.

Kushner had so many thought provoking ideas. For example, he discussed his idea on creation. What if in the scheme of God creating the world in six days we were really just on the fourth day and God was still working all of the chaos around us into His order? I had not really thought about thought about how our view of God influences how we deal with tragedy. Kushner really made me think about all of the facets of grief and how it related to God’s plan and power. He also made me really contemplate his views in mass tragedies as well as his thoughts on what heaven might be like. How is it possible that a plane crashes and kills hundreds that it was just “time” for ALL of those people? If someone loses the ability to walk in this life, in heaven will they regain that ability? I can understand how someone can become angry with God after he or she has experienced a personal tragedy. This book discusses some of the hardest questions we ask of God when we face hard times. It also brings to light to a lot of ideas to consider about God’s role in tragedy and how to maintain our faith despite it all.

Respect in Your Family Relationships

respectRespect is important in every relationship whether it be with your friends, coworkers, significant other, or family members. Respect means that we treat others in a thoughtful and courteous way. Oftentimes it is those we are closest to that we find behaving in a respectful way the hardest – our family members. We can get aggravated and annoyed for so many reasons and civilized conversations go out the window. However, mutual respect is a key aspect in a harmonious family foundation. We should all speak kind words to our loved ones, be responsible for our own actions and messes, and value the opinions and wishes of our loved ones. You cannot force someone to act in a respectful way towards you but you can earn respect by first showing respect. Take some time to reflect on your most recent tiff with a family member and how that conflict could have been avoided or changed with a little respect. After all, none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, and we are all different so conflict in inevitable. Calmly talking through your differences is much more effective than holding in your anger until you explode and mutual respect is the key!

This year let’s get some sleep!

girl-sleepingThese first few weeks of the New Year mean that many of us are implementing changes in our lives. Unfortunately, those changes often taper off after a few weeks. One of the lifestyle changes that I want to make this year is to get more sleep. To motivate myself to make this change permanent I looked at some facts on the importance of getting enough sleep. According the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, a full night’s sleep aids in learning and memory as information and memories are consolidated during this time.  Chronic lack of sleep affects our metabolism and causes the body to store carbohydrates and alter hormone levels. Our immune systems become weaker and are unable to fight off infection. Sleep deprivation also causes us to become irritable, impatient, unable to concentrate, and moody and may also contribute to an increase in mishaps and accidents. Serious sleep disorders have been linked to an increase in stress and hypertension. For all of these reasons and the fact that I am a much nicer person when I get a great night of sleep, I am going to strive to keep this a priority in my life. As far as getting to sleep, I find a good workout or a good book really help me!

Do you feel like getting enough sleep is a problem for you and what keeps you from getting to sleep at night?

Family Traditions

      christmas-tree-family

Traditions are longstanding beliefs and/or activities that are passed down from generation to generation. Now is the time of year that so many families are gathering to partake in some of their own holiday traditions. I remember as a kid gathering with my family at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve to spend time together before midnight mass. We would sing carols, have delicious food, and open one gift before we went to church as a family. My grandmother and grandfather instilled that tradition, to attend church together, because they knew how important it was for our family. They insisted everyone go – even the little ones who could barely stay awake! My earliest Christmas memories were of trying to stay awake so late at church! Those were magical moment for me and are still some of my favorite memories. My family still attends church at the same place for midnight mass.

Division of Labor in a Marriage

division of labor in marriageDisagreements over the division of labor in a marriage can cause some major problems. I myself am a young newly-wed (going on 3 years of marriage) and this particular issue is something that I have had to work on as well. Sometimes in a marriage one person feels like they are doing so much more than the other and it can be frustrating. One person may be keeping a tally of who took out the trash last, who did the dishes last, who did the laundry last, or who cleaned the bathroom last. Oftentimes, the other spouse is completely unaware of the score he or she is up against! When one person is feeling like they are carrying the burden of the household chores it can lead to anger and resentment.  The best way to handle the situation is to have an open and calm conversation about it. Don’t assume your spouse can read your mind!  Make a list of what needs to be done around the house from mowing the yard and changing the oil in the car to doing the laundry and feeding the dog. Once you have made a list, come to a mutual agreement about how to handle the division of labor – whether it is to alternate doing the task or dividing the tasks up equally. This way you can avoid a lot of arguments, you are both contributing, and you are both feeling appreciated.