Does It Really All Work Out?
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
The old saying goes "It all works out in the end." How much do I hate that saying? What is that supposed to mean anyway? My grandmother used to say that. While I sat at the kitchen table working on homework, while she cooked dinner with the blare of the little rabbit-eared television our constant companion, she would say that in response to a random news story. It was supposed to be comforting to know that whatever is going on now is going to change, presumably for the better. But that was of such scant comfort when the here and now was so very bleak. Hostages in Iran. War. A horrible grade on a test. The pain from my high school break-up. If someone other than Grandma Rachel had come over and told me "it all works out in the end" I would have smacked them. I don't really care if it all works out in the end....what in the hell am I supposed to do right now?
I guess I have evolved a bit when it comes to this perspective. Working with clients, talking with friends, I find myself attempting to use some variation of this worn out phrase. At a loss for anything approaching real support I revert to what I know:
"It's ok. This is temporary."
"It's fine. It will get better from here."
"It really sucks....but it will pass."
I'm not lying when I say that, but I really don't know what will happen next. None of us do. We can honestly admit that we have no clear indication that everything will work out in the end. So why do we bother to say it, or allow ourselves to believe it?
Current drama makes time go by so very slowly. And we are buried in the fog and unable to see a reasonable way out. But I guess I'm beginning to admit that we have to learn to believe that it is all going to work out in the end. It's self-preservation to fight against the present, but it is also self-preservation to submit to the powers that be. I have gradually learned that things truly are constantly changing around us. Everything changes. We change. Our circumstances and feelings and goals and dreams change. And there is just no predicting how those changes will affect other things in our life, or when those changes are going to happen. And we need to be ok with that. We actually don't have a choice but to be ok with the unknowns and ifs in life. Scary and liberating all at once.
I can't be too hard on my Grandma Rachel for repeating that phrase in the face of a challenging present reality. She was someone who endured family deaths and the racism of the South and a lightning strike and a few heart attacks. She knew adversity and present-day challenges, but she also knew the joy of enduring and accepting the adversity as temporary. She absolutely believed that it would all work out in the end, and that is the way she lived her life. She saw no point in trying to make it otherwise. So she lived a full life, admitting her present circumstances but perpetually hopeful of what the future had in store for her.
I have adapted her saying. I will concede that it all works out in the end. And we must come to believe, as we struggle and fight and hurt and evolve, that if it hasn't worked out, it's just not the end.