“If I were to invent a sin to describe what that was–for how I lived–I would not say it was simply that I didn’t stop to smell the roses. It was the sin of arrogance, of becoming impervious to life itself. I failed to love what was present and decided to love what was possible instead.”
Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved is something beautifully raw. Think of the memoir as a sorrowful, and somewhat satirical, depiction of dying—all of the fears, unmet dreams, and the people Kate Bowler found herself forced to leave behind.
In 2015, Bowler was just thirty-five when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. She was at what some would describe as the prime of her life–happily married with a young son and excelling in her career. In spite of her previous belief in Prosperity Gospel (or some version of it), Bowler still found herself diagnosed with a fatal cancer, given a mere few months to live.
By now you’re probably able to connect the memoir’s title to its content, centered around the mantra “Everything happens for a reason.” Bowler essentially destroys this narrative in her book, commenting that if everything truly did happen for a reason, then what did she do to deserve cancer? What did her son do to watch her waste away? What sin did her friends, family and acquaintances commit in order to deserve such a punishment as losing a loved one? There is no “reason” per say that life is hard–believing so would mean believing the world follows a system of consequence. Assigning such moral values to an ambiguous life is a merely a byproduct of human projection (Though of course, God is an exemption from this rule), Bowler’s perspective on these inevitable truths paired with her traumatic experience with cancer is what makes this work so alluring, and so worth the read.