Thursday, April 24, 2014

it's not fair!

It starts when we're young.

"It's not FAIR!!!"

"Her sandwich is bigger than mine." "He got more presents than I did."

It continues as we get older.

"He got the part I wanted in the play." " I wanted that bike for MY birthday." "I did my very best at the try-out, but I still got cut."
At the time, these slights feel like major injustices and maybe even the end of the world. As we get older and add some life experience to our repertoire, we realize these moments offer us lots of practice on handling life's many, many, MANY hard knocks. As a parent, I understand that my kids need to experience life's little, soft knocks as they're growing up. As much as I want to shield them from any little bit of pain, much like I swooped in to pick Isaac up as a bee buzzed near him while he played on his blanket as a baby, I know there are lessons in the heartache. I hope they learn to handle getting cut from a team or having a friend hurt their feelings, normal kid stuff, before they get to the big stuff. A terminal diagnosis. The death of a close friend. A job loss that changes everything.

Because soon enough it will happen. The big, gut-wrenching unfairness of life will stab all of us right in the back. A marriage will end. A friend will be diagnosed with cancer. A parent will become ill. A terrible accident. Mental illness. Addictions. Poverty.

Life will change in ways that make it impossible to go back to how it was just minutes before. They will have a before and after moment. Life before the crash and life after the crash. A fault line in their lives.

Last summer, the kids and I ran a race to support my friend, Jenna, and her fight against stage 4 pancreatic cancer. They had a much larger turnout than expected so they weren't able to give medals to all of the participants. Isaac ran ahead of us while I walked my big pregnant belly around the trails while pushing Elliot and his bike up hills and trying to keep up with Audrey. Not pretty. Needless to say, the  medals were gone by the time the three of us got to the finish line. Audrey was mad. "It's not fair." I tried to talk to her about the big turnout and how that means they raised even more money for Jenna and blah, blah, blah. She wasn't listening. She just kept repeating, "It's not fair." And finally I'd had it. I bent down to her level and I said, "I'm sorry you didn't get a medal, but  life isn't always fair. You know what really isn't fair?," I asked with tears streaming down my face. "Jenna has cancer. She's really sick. That isn't fair. You will get another medal another day. They are out today." And she got really quiet and nodded her head and we got in the car and we left. She got a glimpse of big unfairness as compared to little unfairness. She saw it again when my friend died, having to say goodbye to her husband and 21-year-old son and 5-year-old son. Life isn't fair.

Or, the thing I've been thinking of since reading Aubrey's story yesterday. A couple will try with all of their might and all of their money and all of their prayers and hopes and dreams to have a baby. And in spite of all of that, it still might not happen. And infertility won't be their whole life, but it might cast a shadow over many parts of it. The family celebrations and friends announcing pregnancies and empty room that's supposed to be a nursery. Life isn't fair.


I am a Christian and I believe the bible when, in Jeremiah 29:11, it says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Goodness, some days I cling to those words like a person stranded in a hurricane clings to a tree. And I've heard the platitudes, too. "There is a reason for this." "God never gives us more than we can handle."

But some days that's just a load of crap. God's best-laid plans feel light years away while I wallow here on earth, stuck in the unfairness of life. What are God's plans for children dying of hunger while I throw out leftovers? What are God's plans for couples aching for a baby who don't have the means to pursue fertility treatments or adoption? What are God's plans for the children left behind when their mama dies?

I get stuck there. Stuck in the hard, rotten, heartbreaking unfairness of so many facets of life.

But there's something I always come back to.

We are God's plan.

I am not a theologian. That's obvious, isn't it? I just really love this guy named Jesus and try to be more and more like him every day. Mostly I fail. Always I try. Because we are God's plan.

And armed with his love and mercy and justice, we are here to offer love and mercy and justice to others. While they battle life's unfairness. To lift them up. To listen. To wipe tears. To hug. To hold hands during chemo. To pray over the phone. To bring them to a movie when they need a laugh. To bring them a meal. To send them a card. To notice when they're down. To show up.

To enter into the lives, in real and meaningful ways, of people who are just absolutely stuck.

It's not fair. It really isn't. I wish it were. DeNae, armed with her magic wand and cape and wrist cuffs that deflect bullets, ridding the world of hate and abuse and disease and the moments that create fault lines in our lives.

Sorry. I'm no good with superheroes so I'm sure I got that all mixed up.

But I hope to improve at just being here. One person in God's big, beautiful, terrible world, standing in solidarity with people who are stuck.

It's not glamorous. It comes with no cool costume.

But it matters. In fact, it might make all the difference in the world to one person.

It matters.


  1. Oh my word, this helped my heart today. I was raised in a Christian home by parents who instilled that Bible verse in me. I needed the reminder today. I sometimes get mad at Him. Life isn't fair. But it truly is still good.

  2. Oh this is such a wonderful post! It's so easy to get stuck in the "it's not fair" part of life, but you're right- while it might not be fair it's still good. Thank you for this reminder!

  3. Thank you, DeNae, for the right words for today! I love that guy Jesus, too, and strive to be like Him more and more every day. I love you!