Are there really coincidences? Is it kismet or serendipity or just good luck when things happen by chance? I don’t believe that there are any coincidences. I’ve read that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. And that theology is a choice. One doesn’t have to believe that. But to understand coincidence, one only has to look at love stories. When you begin to see people who never otherwise would have met, were it not for coincidence, you can’t dispute it!
Coincidence and Marie Curie
Do you know the story about Marie Curie? I have always been fascinated with Marie Curie, ever since I did a report about her in science class back in 5th grade. And although I have never been a huge fan of science, her story has always inspired me. Her mother had died young, leaving her and 4 older sisters in Warsaw Poland. She was raised in an environment where intellectual curiosity was encouraged, which was rare for women at that time.
She found science and realized her calling was to follow her passion of scientific study. Although she had no clear way of going to university, she had the vision. First, she worked as a governess to help her older sister go to medical school. Then, her father gave her the funds to go to Paris to study. There, she lived on meager means, not eating for days at a time, living in an attic room that lacked heat and light. But she had passion and vision for her life. Romance was the last thing on her mind.
Coincidence and Generosity
You see? This is how life gets interesting. Sometimes one finds love, when one is busy doing something else. She met her future husband Pierre by coincidence, in Paris. He was immediately smitten with her gifted talent and scientific mind. He pursued her until they agreed to marry him. Joined together by their passion for science, they were rarely apart. Pierre left his physics job to join her quest to isolate an element. Marie called it Polonium, after her homeland, Poland. She then isolated Radium, which later was the main compound in what scientists would call later radiation used in therapies to cure disease.
(Radiation therapy was originally called “Curietherapy.”) The Curie’s felt it was important to share their knowledge of radium rather than to sell it. They were generous to their fellow scientists and humankind, as they understood that this discovery would be useful in treating life threatening illnesses.
Even as a young 5th grader, I stopped to wonder what would the world be like had the Curie’s not devoted their life to finding an element that would later fuel a treatment for cancer? I’m sure someone eventually would have figured it out. But for the Curie’s – it was a calling – a passion so strong, they endured terrible working conditions in order to fulfill their mission.
Marie Curie was known to have said that the years they spent in a laboratory which was more like a shack. In fact, when the University first gave it to them as their lab, they thought it was a joke. It had no heat and was literally more of a barn. And yet, despite the lack of creature comforts, Curie reminisced on those years as some of the best of her life.
Which led me to ask the question,
“Can We Really Be Happy Even When Our Outside Conditions Are Not Ideal?”
And the answer is – yes, you can, depending on what one focuses upon.
The Coincidence of Finding Love While Going Through Cancer Treatment
My former neighbor’s daughter was the subject of a story in a People Magazine article. https://people.com/human-interest/couple-who-met-battling-same-cancer-now-dating-molly-gorczyca-ryan-smith/ She told the story about how she and her now boyfriend, two, young college students found one another under less than ideal conditions. They were both battling the same form of cancer. Despite their initial diagnosis, they came together, strengthening one another through their illness and ultimately beginning a love affair that continues to this day. They are not defined by their illness, but rather, see it as the “coincidence” that brought them together.
So the takeaway is this: Sometimes things happen which seem at first to be negative. However, if we can withhold the negative judgment, there may be a gift hidden inside the experience. The Curie’s could have been resentful at the “shack-like” laboratory that the University had given them. Instead, they seized the opportunity to have a place to work and discovered the element that today sits on the periodic table. The cancer patients could have been angry at their diagnoses, but they focused on what was possible and ended up finding love.
Today, I am watching out for the elements in my life that are bringing pain and disappointment to my psyche. And I am attempting to use a spiritual lens to gain a new perspective.
- What good, despite the seemingly negative situation, does God have in store for me?
- What can I focus on that will bring a more positive perspective?
- Am I willing to see the situation in a new light, or am I clinging to the negative because there is a payoff? (Victimization mentality)
Coincidence is When God Chooses To Remain Anonymous
I’ll leave you with this story. There was a young boy who lost his left arm in a car accident. His mother wanted to bolster his self-esteem so she enrolled him in judo. The Sensei taught the boy over and over – just one move – for six months. The boy was frustrated at first and questioned the Sensei.
“Shouldn’t I be learning more than one move in Judo?”
The Sensei assured the boy he would be oaky as long as he mastered this one move. After a few months, the Sensei enrolled the student in his first tournament.
The student won the first few matches with ease. Then the third match became more challenging, but the student eventually prevailed and won. The student ended up in the finals. His opponent was older, larger and more experienced. The referee was afraid the boy would get hurt, but the sensei urged them to continue. Eventually, at a weak moment, the student used his one move against his seasoned opponent. He pinned him and won the match, making him the champion of the tournament.
On the way home, the student summoned up the courage to ask his sensei how he was able to become the champion of his first tournament, when he only knew one move. The sensei answered. “We have spent the last six months learning to master one of the most difficult throws in judo. You won, because the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”
Even if we are down to one last move, are we willing to believe there are no coincidences? Until we meet again, may you be blessed along your spiritual journey.
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