“It’s not fair,” a good friend said to me the other day. I hadn’t heard that in a while (my kids are all grown up and I’m more likely to say that to them than the other way around now-a-days.) But this friend WAS all grown up and still caught deeply in the snare of FAIRness.
Perhaps it’s our culture, so enamored with giving everyone an award. Perhaps it’s just this friend’s childlike heart. How could I find fault with that? Christ says unless we become like little children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven!
“Whoa! Back the maturity truck up here,” my ‘friend’ Tim the Toolman Taylor would say. “Aren’t we suppose to grow up and become mature adults, having a more civilized outlook on life than our kids?” (Like Tim will ever grow up – insert grunts here)
So I thought about FAIRness. Are we entitled to FAIRness?
Was it FAIR that my Dave had to live unhappily with me for twenty-five years before we figured out how to maybe get it right?
Is it FAIR that Tony Campolo gets snubbed and thrown out of evangelical circles because he used a word in public that is found in scripture – twice! – but is deemed unmentionable by our whitewashed evangelical ears?
Is it FAIR that those little children died of starvation, even though Tony Campolo risked saying the “s” word in order to bring to our attention that we care more about convention than we do about lives? (Apparently he had a valid point.)
Is it FAIR that I got to grow up in a home with running water, good food and yummy heat all winter long? How is it FAIR that some kids get to grow up in San Diego and never have to worry about snow, and some kids get to grow up in Haiti and never have to worry about snow, but go hungry all the time? And running water means a very different thing there . . . (shrug) Just sayin’.
What in life is guaranteed to be FAIR? Our parents? I know some pretty sucky ones – and some awesome ones and some who are okay, but no one’s going to give them a prize. My kids got read to and given all sorts of encouragement in education and music. The kid down the street from us was lucky he graduated from high school (or – did he?) and got a job. Period. Maybe he could read, but comprehension and the ability to discern truth from fiction?
Well, you’ve seen our political world. Discerning truth from fiction is NOT even taught in our schools! And speaking of politics, is that world FAIR? How about if you are born in Iran? Are there some things that are more FAIR somewhere else than they are where we are born? Do we have some things more FAIR than others who are born in other countries? How about states? Is Georgia as great a place to grow up in as Massachusetts? As California? Texas? Ooooooklahoma? (Sorry, Kermit moment there)
Should we even CARE if something in our lives is FAIR or not?
I’ve worked at a business I don’t really enjoy, with competitors who consider lying, cheating and outright dishonesty, contract breaking, you name it, to be the normal course. Is that FAIR? They lower their pricing below what it costs them and then wait until we squirm and go out of business and then raise the pricing through the roof. Is that FAIR? Should I have had to spend all those years learning how not to be anxious in EVERY SITUATION? (It took about nineteen and a half years for me to get a passing grade on that one!). Is that FAIR?!!
And what about the people whose spouses do not meet their needs, or become incapacitated in some way, or suffer all the time with depression or sickness? Should they use the excuse that this situation is unFAIR and get a divorce? What about nasty spouses? Where do we draw the line? I believe I know quite a few people who have used this idea (in some form or other) of unFAIRness to severe their marriage and try again elsewhere. Always seeking the elusive FAIRness of a happy marriage.
Is it FAIR that my beautiful grandson lives in sunny California and we suffer here in the Northeast with the horrors of snow and blistering wind and temperatures lower than a puritan’s hem? No. I would contend that this situation in particular is beyond the boundaries of unFAIRness and should be corrected at once! (Only because I really like my kid’s kid!)
But it will not be corrected any time soon. Perhaps even in my lifetime. Should I rail against the authorities about the unFAIRness of this? Should I petition the economists and get them to lower the cost of living (or at least of real estate) in the world of California? Should I stomp my feet and demand that my children suffer in the Northeast with me because I want it to be so?
Some people do. They even, sometimes, get their way.
Does it make them happy now that their life is more FAIR?
In the immortal words of Rob Reiner and Goldman’s Westley, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” – The Princess Bride
So if life isn’t FAIR, how are we do deal with the unFAIRness? Is railing against it a productive activity? Complaining until we get our way? Harboring anger deep inside at our loss or inability to overcome the unFAIRness? Pointing our finger at those who have determined unFAIRness must touch our lives?
I think a different approach is healthier for our hearts, our minds and our souls. Paul the Apostle said that he learned to be CONTENT in whatever circumstance he found himself in. And I would go further to push for the idea that when we allow ourselves to be CONTENT in our circumstances, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, unhappy they make us feel, unconnected they force us to become, unfed even, if we, in ALL circumstances, lay down our call to FAIRness and accept that the Lord IS our Lord and He opens some doors and closes some doors and walks with us through life’s circumstances, good and bad, FAIR and unFAIR: when we give the fighting for FAIRness over to Him, we receive PEACE.
I spent many years crying about my marriage, crying about my work, crying about my finances, crying about my health, etc, etc, etc. But those difficult, unFAIR circumstances gave me the JOY of FAITH, of knowing that no matter what I do, where I find myself, how much money I don’t have, how close or far away I am from those I love, no matter WHAT – I am loved by the Lord of the Universe and He walks with me every day, every moment, through every good and bad thing. Sometimes He delivers me from the bad things that tear at my heart, and in miraculous ways that seem incomprehensible. Sometimes He simply holds me with the arms of the Comforter and helps my frail frame make it through.
FAITH is worth more than getting my way and having FAIRness in my life, hands down, every time. And by saying, “Okay, God, this is not where I would like to be, but it is where You have me to be right now, so help me make it through. And thank you right now for helping me make it through, because I believe and trust that You will,” by doing that, I gain even more FAITH. Because God is always FAITHful. Masterfully so.
BTW, being GOD and giving it all up to become a MAN, growing up with MEN, getting pushed around, spit on, beaten up and eventually allowing MEN to crucify YOU = NOT FAIR. We deserve death, not the gift of LIFE held out to us by the God who was willing to make the sacrifice in our place, on our behalf, so that we – who could not possibly have made that sacrifice and have it count for anything but that word Tony Campolo is not allowed to say in evangelical circles – we can simply accept that gift and walk arm and arm with God and spend LIFE truly living right now, as well as eternally forever.
Not FAIR. But I will take it. Because FAIR would be eternal damnation with no hope of redemption. “I’ll take NOT FAIR for 2000, please, Alex”.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for not grasping after FAIRness, but giving up all that You deserve and more to choose Death, so that I can Live. I deserve death. We deserve death. That’s FAIR. So, thank you God, that life is NOT FAIR!