The definition of happenstance is “something that happens by chance.” Whether it’s the diagnosis of a disease like Crohn’s or an encounter that leaves a lasting impression, I’m of the belief that each discovery, each interaction, and each “coincidence” is actually meant to occur. It’s those very happenstance moments that can bring us the greatest clarity and change the destiny of our lives.
The happenstance mentality is not something I can take credit for. My Godmother or “Nouna” as us Greeks say it, has been a shining light in my life since she put the oil on me 33 years ago. She’s endured more heartache than many—as her son Bill was born with a hypoplastic left ventricle (basically half a heart). My cousin Bill is someone who comes up quite a bit in my writing and in my thoughts because he’s a pillar of inspiration for me—much like his Mom. Throughout Bill’s miraculous transplant journey these last 27 years and throughout my 11 year battle with Crohn’s…each hospital stay, each flare up, setback and surgery—she always says… “I don’t believe in happenstance.” Her words are so empowering to me.
They make me feel like I’m meant to battle the adversities before me and that the current pain and struggle is just a small fragment of what my life is all about. Those words mean I was destined to have Crohn’s—this was meant to be a part of me because there is a purpose. In my opinion—my love for writing and helping others enables me to be an advocate for those who suffer in silence. This mentality is never a “why me”… but more a “why not me.”
As my Nouna says, “As simple as this may sound, the “happenstance mentality,” is like a very high and unspoken faith. It’s believing the circumstance and the outcome are totally out of my hands. That I just have to believe in the higher powers, that they will intervene and make everything work out. I have never ever asked God “why?” I felt if I did, I would be looking ungrateful to God for what He has given us. Instead of the “why me” perception, I prefer to live by: “God gives his toughest lessons to his greatest teachers.”
Who are your greatest teachers? When I think of some of my greatest teachers in life it’s those like my Nouna who choose to look at life’s obstacles as only hurdles and setbacks. When you think back to experiences that challenged you—hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. No matter what you are dealing with or what you are battling take a moment to stop and think—every relationship and friendship started with a stranger, each person with a medical condition has heard the same words… “You have….”… and each new possibility and encounter is a new opportunity.
We all go through different seasons in our life—embrace the timing. What may seem like your greatest hardship in the moment, may pleasantly surprise you down the road when you come to the realization that the thing that you may detest the most (ie. Crohn’s disease), an illness that forces you to let go of the reins as it takes control of you at any moment…. also has the ability to serve as a lifelong blessing because it forces you to look in the mirror and be stronger. It forces you to push through when your hurt the most and it forces you to truly grasp how fragile, amazing and often taken for granted a good day of health is.
I hope the happenstance mentality serves as a source of strength for you and a reminder of how our lives are all part of a bigger plan.