Bad Things Happening Creates Good People

I read this quote that stuck in my mind: “Not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people.”


We see this during times of national tragedy, when events such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy, or Sept 11th, have moved people to band together, helps others, donate to causes or strive for change. I have also witnessed hard times creating better people in my personal life.

When the frustrations of drama in the workplace and a bad apple making my life stressful drove me from my old job, I made sure I was a different person at my new job. I kept an emotional distance from others in the beginning, I kept work and personal life separate and stayed away from gossip and negative people. I became a better coworker and had no troubles. Only after I had left the bad situation did I realize I was at least half of the problem.


The most monumental change in my life came from my Dad passing away when I was thirty-one. One lesson I learned was the importance of being there for others in their time of loss and how much it can mean to them. Or how much the lack of support, empathy and grieving time can also hurt. And as crazy as it sounds, I think my father’s death also made me a Democrat, or at least a more generous compassionate person. The struggles my father had in his last few years and my guilt over wishing I could help is what started the change. My Dad was a hard worker and had instilled in me the same work ethics. He was also a staunch Republican that passed on his view that the government should not take care of people, people should work and earn their own way. Homeless people were just lazy con-artists. Towards his end, my father had lost everything and became essentially homeless, living in his camper or motel room. I wanted to give him money and help him but any time I gave him money he went on a bender. His mind was going and I couldn’t have him around my small children possibly being a threat to them or our home. One evening, months after my Dad had passed, my husband and I were downtown on a date night. Walking from the restaurant back to the parking garage we passed a homeless man begging on the street. I walked past him looking him in the eyes – the same brown alcoholic eyes like my father. I smiled at him hoping to bring some miniscule happiness to him but everything inside me wanted to stop, hug him, give him money, pray for him, or tell him something – anything. I did nothing as my husband (who also does not believe in giving money to homeless people) dragged me quickly to the car where once inside I started crying and shaking in a panic attack. Maybe that homeless guy had an estranged daughter somewhere that wished someone could help her dad. Maybe he hadn’t meant to become homeless but had made bad choices and taken it too far to turn back now like my father had. Maybe that was my Dad inside that man’s eyes calling out to me, seeing if I would notice him. I wanted to go back and do something. But maybe he was a psychopath that would hurt me if I did. I cried all the way home, missing my dad, feeling guilty I couldn’t do anything to help, memories of my father’s predicament haunting me. That was the turning point in my life where I no longer viewed all homeless people as lazy druggies that should just go get a job. I now realized that many had physical or psychological issues that prevented them from working. Yes, mostly caused by their own bad decisions, but just because they had taken a wrong turn in life didn’t mean they didn’t have someone some where that missed them and loved them and mourned for their old life. The next week I donated all my Dad’s clothing to the men’s shelter. It took my father dying for me to become a compassionate person.


Recently a friend of mine lost her mother to suicide, something we would never wish on anyone. The traumatic experience has been hard on her, of course, and I cannot imagine the grief and guilt that accompanies it. But I have noticed a change in my friend. I notice her now outwardly loving and enjoying her friends and family even more than before. Reaching out to others more than before. Her father and her have become closer than before. And you can bet that she will always be sensitive to those who have shared similar circumstances. These are the positive traits that have developed out of a horrible experience.


That which does not kill us makes us stronger. And it is not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people. That is why with each passing year as we experience more in life, we grow better and wiser.


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