Reeve, Christopher – God doesn't make these things happen. We were given free will, and everything obeys the laws of nature
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Still me – Christopher Reeve
I think these selfish thoughts are part of the survival mechanism.
That "me-me-me" is an inevitable first response. And then you need to evolve to higher thoughts - a different way of thinking. For some people this comes through religion; they're able to subsume the self into their faith. But that didn't work for me, although I tried. I'm not a religious person, but I thought: I have to develop a relationship with God right now, otherwise I'm lost. There were some nights when I would pray, but I felt like a terrible phony. I felt that I was performing, that it wasn't really coming from the center of my being, from a genuine place.
My friend Bobby Kennedy once said to me, 'Just fake it till you make it. The prayers will seem phony, but one day they'll become real, and your faith will become real." But something different happened to me. I began to think: Whether or not there is a God is not so important. Spirituality itself, the belief that there is something greater than ourselves, is enough.
Dana was going through the same process. She had been raised as a Catholic but found she could not accept formal religion. After my injury she read When Bad Things Happen to Good People, written by Rabbi Harold Kushner, a man whose son had progeria, a terrible disease in which the victim ages rapidly and dies in adolescence.
Here was a man of God, who served God, and who couldn't reconcile the fact that this could happen to him. But he finally reached a conclusion that both Dana and I could accept - that God doesn't make these things happen. We were given free will, and everything obeys the laws of nature. If you are flung over a horse's head, you very well might break your neck. It just happens. But where God comes in, where grace enters, is in the strength you find to deal with it. You may not know where it comes from, but there's an enormous power at work.
And so you may find that you try to behave in the best manner you possibly can, the most loving way you can manage at any given moment. I think that old adage "God is love" is literally true, whether or not you actually believe in God. Thinking that way helped me get past the "me-me-me"-my body, my problems, my condition, myself.