From where did, and when did, the phrase appear?  According to Mr. Webster a consequence is a ‘conclusion derived through logic’.  He also says it ‘happens as a result of a particular action or condition’.  He says it is ‘something produced by a cause following from a set of circumstances’.  This all sounds very deliberate to me.  So the question becomes where is the ‘unintended’ part in all of this?

I remember my chemistry class.  I was not great there.  One quarter I got and E and then a D for the whole course.  It was my junior year in high school and I had other more fun things to attend to I believed.  Luckily I had studied some for 2 quarters at least.  Our teacher, Mr. Furtwengler, kept cautioning us about procedure and safety.  The consequences of our experiments were known.  If we did them correctly we would get the expected results.   In this case I can see where mixing the wrong chemicals could bring about unintended consequences.  The question at this point becomes why would you do that if you know the best way to create a successful lab project?

Back to the phrase above ‘unintended consequences’.  It sounds to me like this comes from a time or place or action or situation that no one pays much attention to such that they are not certain of the results.  Without clear thought and understanding why would one consciously make a decision or choice or choose a direction that would give them unintended results?

Oh I hear you out there the naysayers – what is this aging woman yacking about.  Has she not ever fallen in love?  How do you know the results of that?  Well of course this can be a fair question.  I fell in love many a time when I was in school.  Fun and free and not forever.  At the time I did not care about the consequences.

The part of this discussion that is missing and according to Mr. Webster, is that consequences come from logic, actions and conditions.  In the case of a chemical experiment you know when you mix a with b you will get c.  In the case of love while you may not know the consequences you do know that your actions can influence them.  Looking back 46 years, the spontaneous marriage in November of 1968 of two kids who just met in February of that same year, was not a bad thing.  The consequences while not known were ever influenced by many positive actions in a fertile condition that had us wanting to remain together.  While we had no idea we would be happy, we planned to be, worked toward that and the resulting good life has been intended through our actions.

All of this prefaces the real point of my post this morning.  We got a call to pray for again for a child who spoke about suicide.  I’ve written about this before.

I am not a stranger to despair.  I know the depths to which our detachment and isolation can lead us.  I know the hole that death can leave on our personhood.  I know the destruction that can come from all of these.  I know the black.  I know the silent.  I know the sensation of screaming with no sound coming out of your mouth.  I know the rage that wants to rend apart everything in its path.  I know the edgy, the jittery, the cold of your body when it is hot outside.  I have heard the raging sounds of water in your head when no such thing exists outside of it. I know the begging to God for something to change only to hear little response.  The emptiness.   How do I know all of these?  Does it matter?

Unintended consequences?  This sweet young child is in a mental hospital.  What is the life situation that brought this thought? Did they think that was going to happen when the words were expressed. Or were they simply just said with no thought?

I have no answers.  I have not lived a perfect life.  I am figuratively, since the dawning of age and arthritis, on my knees daily in prayer.  I am a stream of consciousness pray-er.  As I said I woke up with this request in my mind and heart.  I prayed last night when we got the call.  I will keep this child in my heart, as I move about the day, along with all the other people for whom I have committed to pray.

Unintended consequences – what are they really.  Perhaps it is simply living life not knowing all the answers.  If in fact that is it, then we all must expect them and are they really unintended?  For every action we take there will be a consequence.  I know that when I pray I will not necessarily know the answer.  What I will know is that I have spent some time in the quiet of my heart thinking of someone or something else in hope that the prayer is answered as they want.

…..and there it is…..hope.  Even in my darkest times and the tragedies that have come into my life, in the end  I have not ever lost hope.  The spark of hope may have been covered in dust and in the shadows yet there it glowed every so steadily.  The proverbially one candle in the room that overcomes the darkness.

How can I pass this on to this child who wanted to end their life?  How can I let him know that there is nothing – I mean NOTHING – in this world that cannot be forgiven and overcome.  I might come in different ways to different people yet the consequence of hope is simply a ray of light to lead you out of the shadow in which you find yourself at the time.  How can I let him know that life IS worth living? I can’t.

I can only write and share my musings.  I can dare hope that someone who reads this may find something for which they can share with others.  I can pray that people think before they make choices that effect others.  With hope comes choice.  I will continue to pray for this family.  If you read this additional prayers are invited.   The consequences of all of this?  People praying for others.  Doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Perhaps the best words for hope and consequences were spoken through the pen of A.A.Milne when he had Christopher Robin tell Winnie the Pooh…..

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”








  1. “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

    We find a lot of ourselves in our writings ~
    Love you,

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