Wednesday, June 11, 2014



I hope that this is not news to you.  Life is not fair.

I remember my parents telling me this when I was a kid.  I wanted things to be fair between myself and my siblings, and the reality was, that was not always possible.  So my parents would say - "Life is not fair.  That's just how it is."

I found this an infuriating response as a child.  I wanted my parents to "fix" things and make them fall into the lines of fairness that I was drawing from my probably limited knowledge of the situation.

And again they would say, "Life is not fair."

As an adult, I have found myself telling this to my own dear children.  We are not quite to the ages where I am saying it all the time, because they by and large get many of the same privileges.  However, I know that will change as time goes on, and because I am the parent, I can see the bigger picture of what each child will get.  We will certainly work our hardest to balance things out for our children, but each child will need different things at different times, and I won't always be able to explain all the scenarios to them.

Becoming a parent has taught me an awful lot about the ways that God loves me.  I can see that my children are dependent and can only understand a small portion of the larger picture.  I try to make decisions that are in their best interests and that serve our entire family.  As I continue playing out the metaphor, I can deduce that God can see more than I can.  He understands far more than I do, and he is working things for my good and his glory.  Always.

But - can I be really honest here?

As I look at the world around me, I have so many questions for God about how certain things will ever make sense.  There is true and utter tragedy around every corner.  John and I recently have been discussing the plight of the homeless in our city, and ya'll - we cannot make sense of it.  I know there are shelters for people and places for them to get food.  We give money to help support those places.  I know that many people who end up begging on the street often make a fair bit of cash and spend it on foolish things.  I know that some homeless people will try to be picky about how you help them.

I also know that so many of those people are wrecked by mental illness.  I know that some of them grew up in foster care and never, ever had a family.  I know that a lifetime of addiction is a disease that is not easily cured.

When I learned about homelessness as a kid, I remember wondering why those people didn't just go to stay with someone in their family.  I imagined myself as an adult and thought - "I would always have someplace to go and someone to turn towards," which was true, because I had a stable family that loved me well and would always have a place for me.  I didn't realize that being homeless actually means that there is nowhere and no one - either because there never was anybody, or because all bridges between you and your loved ones were burned to the ground years ago.

It's heartbreaking and totally unfair.  The reality that some people will most likely never ever get "better" is something that my hopeful, optimistic self has a really hard time grappling with.  Men and women who wander the streets and sit in the rain and beg for food in drive-thrus.  Some of them probably made some poor choices that helped land them in those situations.

But I've made poor choices too, and none of them landed me there.  And it's not fair.

I can't wrap this up neatly or place a bow on top.  I trust that God does know what he is up to in all of this.  I really do trust that he is good and loves each person infinitely more than I can imagine.  But I don't understand why it has to be so hard for some people.  I hope and pray that he continues to soften my heart for the underdog.  And show me how to best love the person in front of me, whoever that may be.


Carmen Smith said...

Love this. Made me think of my Dad. He was ALWAYS for the underdog. Even when people he helped disappointed him. Love u and you're thoughts on things like this. Don't stop.

Carol Spenst said...

Thanks for the encouragement! XOXO