We have all heard the words, especially if you’re a mom. Most, if not all of us, have said them multiple times ourselves. You know what I am talking about, it’s the smallest of phrases, but with it brings a lot of big emotions. “That’s not fair”, I am fairly certain one of my children utters these three little words at least once a day, some days closer to a thousand. Okay, obviously not a thousand, but you get my point.
Fair, what is it? Obviously it’s something that is relatable to the young and the old. Yet at the same time, it can hold very different meanings to us all. For example, our oldest son has a genetic disorder that has caused him some digestive issues. His favorite food is salsa from one of our local restaurants. This is a common request of his, and is generally met with a “I’m sorry Bubba, we cant go eat that, it will upset your tummy”. In which he usually replies with “that’s not fair”. To him, it is unfair. As his parents, we feel it’s unfair of us to just give in and let him eat it. We understand the consequence it has on his little body. While he doesn’t like the answer, he understands it. Sometimes, a lot of the time, life isn’t fair. What he does understand is our love for him in this decision. He trust us, which makes the unfair seem a little more bearable.
How many times in life have I told God, “Lord, it’s just not fair”. I promise you, I have had my fair share of trials, and I am sure there are many more to come. My hope is that as I learn to walk out these “not fair” moments, I can grow closer to God and understand what his view of fair is for me. The fact of the matter is, life doesn’t have to be fair for me to enjoy it. I don’t have to have, nor do I need, things to be my way. Is it nice sometimes? Sure it is… but I don’t want it to always be fair.
You see, some of my biggest growth moments have been when life wasn’t fair. When my husband and I were first married, he was in the United States Marine Corps. We were a younger couple back then, and I found myself surrounded by lots of other young married couples. Some times were great, others were dramatic. Lots of young married couples, most barely out of high-school. His first duty station was actually pretty great. It was a small base with a small specialty unit, so all the spouses were close and we were friends. In fact most of us built life long friendships there. After a couple of years there, we were moved to the fleet. The fleet was different. It was large and a totally different aspect in comparison to what I had known. Suddenly there was drama and figuring who liked you and who didn’t. It was like being thrown into high-school in a large city… and I was home-schooled growing up, so it was definitely different for me.
I wont begin to say I was perfect, because I wasn’t. I was finding my way, and began to make some friends. In doing so, I also found out those who weren’t my friends. So of course, I tried what my Mamma had always told me “You will be kind to others, even if they aren’t kind to you”. My mom was always one to tell me “Life’s not fair, you are responsible for your actions, not theirs”. So now was my chance to put that into play. There was one couple my husband and I struggled with. It made it easier that they weren’t in our group of friends, but harder because this guy was with my husband when he deployed. Long story short, we invested in these people. We tried to be kind, and when it back fired, I was mad. It wasn’t fair. That’s all I saw was how unfair it was to me. This person was now hurting me. All I could think about was how I had “sacrificed” and “been kind” to her. I was stuck in my own pity party of unfairness.
Do you sense a learning lesson coming for me? Hold tight… it’s going to happen.
So I ignored how I was raised, and with my friends cheering me on, I let loose. I let her have it. It was terrible, it was wrong, and to this day I wish I could take it back. You see, this girl had told lies to try and hurt me, but what I did was even worse. I through her real life hurts and pains at her. All the most intimate details I could use to hurt her, that’s what I did. While lies are no fun, at the end of the day they are just a lie. They held no truth and had no bearing on me as a person. How I responded to them, that is all on me. To this day, I still carry that regret in my heart. How could I be so selfish? I was learning a hard lesson, and it was one I needed to learn.
You see, all of those friends who cheered me on as I hurt this girl, they suddenly were different. I was sharp with my words when I hurt her, and they realized they didn’t want to risk being on the receiving end of that. They didn’t want to get on my bad side. I was kind of shocked, because I had always been the “nice friend”. I was the one who didn’t get into the drama. Now I had shown a side of myself that even I didn’t know existed, and I was reaping the consequences. All because I thought someone had treated me unfairly. Truth be told, the other girl in the story, she was the one who had been dished a lot of “unfair” in life, and I used those pains to hurt her even more. She moved back home to where her family lived, and never came back to our military life. How could I be so cruel?
In time, I began to realize my mistake, but it was too late. The girl had moved away, and I withdrew from my group. I didn’t know how to be the girl I had to be to hang out with those friends. I didn’t want to be what I was becoming. My husband and I kept to ourselves a lot in his final several months there. Not long before moving home, I found myself experiencing one of the biggest “that’s not fair” moment’s of my life. I lost someone who I loved dearly. He was like a brother to me, and I was falling apart. All I wanted to do was get back to Texas to be with my friends and family. My Facebook page was very transparent about my pain, I was in a painful place and I didn’t know what to do. None of my friends reached out… I was alone.
Then, she reached out to me. You know, the girl I was so horrible to that she moved away… She called me. She gave me compassion, she gave me mercy, and she gave me love. That day was a day of healing between us both. We apologized for how we had treated each other. We both felt terrible about it and we forgave each other. Now, we both agreed that there was no budding best friend relationship going to follow… but in that moment, in that day, we were close friends crying it out together. We had both grown into better versions of ourselves through the unfair pain we had inflicted on each other, and now we were finding forgiveness and healing together. We actually haven’t spoken again since that day, yet it is a day I will remember forever.
I learned that acting out in the moments that I feel are unfair, will lead to more pain than it will healing. It was one of the hardest lessons of my life, but God really revealed my heart to me at that time. For the first time in years, I began to grow closer to God again. That time of my life has set a mold for how I deal with the unfair moments that come up to this day. I choose to choose God, and who he has called me to be. He calls me to build people up and show his love. His love gives me the strength to grow during some of the most difficult times of our lives. He calls me to walk in a love and forgiveness that can only come from him. That girl I told you about earlier, she showed me love in the face of one of the biggest “unfair” moments in her life, a moment I was responsible for. She showed me the love of Jesus.
You are probably wondering how this applies to you, right? I don’t know what has been unfair in your life. Heck, I am still trying to make sense of some unfair in my own life. But, what I do know is the love of our Heavenly Father. I do know that he never forsakes me in it, and he doesn’t forsake you either. In fact, it is in the hardest times in my life that my faith has grown the most. In those moment’s of trial and suffering when I turn to the Lord, he gives me strength and he sustains me. I started this story with an example of my son not being able to eat his favorite food. Just as he trust his dad and I to know better than he does, that we are looking out for his greater good… we have to trust God in the same way. He knows the bigger picture. He knows how far we can stretch, so we have to trust him in that.
We will all have times of trial when life just doesn’t seem fair. Those days that seem to never end, that things just couldn’t get any worse. My challenge to you is to seek the Lord in those moments. Give him your heaviness, and accept his strength. Know that what we see as unfairness in our lives, may be a new opportunity to grow closer with our God. We can let our moments of “that’s not fair” become faith building moments. Instead of focusing on what we can see, lets trust what God see’s and what he calls “fair”.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3