It isn’t hard for me these days to feel discouraged. Everywhere I look in my own life, in my family’s lives, in my community and world I find discontentment, sadness, loneliness and fear. I sometimes want to crawl into a hole and never come out. Because, well, life is tough. And it’s not fair.
What is fair? As a mom, I often am called on to be the referee and judge. Someone has something that isn’t theirs and the owner wants it back. Someone else wanted the last pizza pop in the freezer but so-and-so took it~ knowing full well it was already marked for consumption. And yet another wants to know why “missy” got off with a warning when he was doled out punishment and a grounding.
What can I say? Life isn’t always fair. In fact, I don’t recall life EVER being fair. Parenting can really bring that into perspective like no other situation can. I love all my kids. But I will be the first to say that I love them differently. **gasps heard everywhere** Let’s face it, we don’t love our kids the same. We don’t treat our kids the same. We don’t punish them the same or give them gifts in the same manner or value. And well, if you do….I don’t know what to say to that. We are all individuals. We have unique ideas, passions, feelings and thoughts. I may have raised all 4 of my kids under the same roof , with the same foods and the same routines but I will tell you very clearly they are anything but the same! Years ago, I remember being in my grandma’s house preparing for Christmas. Grandma told me she was nearly done her shopping but had a couple of gifts left to get. I will never forget our conversation. She and Grandpa were expecting most of their grandkids home for Christmas that year. At that time I think there were about 15 of us. She wanted each kid to get a gift and I was surprised that they would go to that expense and trouble. I said, “Grandma, we don’t need gifts; being here for Christmas is all that we need or want.” And she told me then that I need not worry about the expense. She said that she never worried about making sure she spent the same amount on each person. She simply bought a little token that would show her love and be unique to the grandchild receiving it. We had a lengthy conversation on making sure that everything is fair and she laughed out loud~ life is not fair and it never will be; it’s best that you learn that early on.
My grandma taught me much that day. I have never spent equal on my kids for birthdays , Christmases or back to school shopping! My kids know that and it has never been an issue. But, at the same time I have learned that it is not so easy to punish fairly. The kid who learns nothing unless privileges are removed is clearly going to feel slighted when another child only needs to be told of their wrong-doings. Some kids you have to tell over and over …….and OVER again! Some only need to be told once. Others make excuses and some simply deny. And there never seems to be a fitting punishment for lying. *sigh* It’s hard to make a child understand that you don’t love them less~ but you love them differently. My mothering heart is full~ full of patience and impatience. Full of joy and sorrows. Full of anger….yes, anger….and full of love. The negative is only there to make me appreciate the positive and the positive isn’t so positive without the negative. Does it make sense? I don’t know. But it sure makes me start to understand why there seems to be such a dichotomy in the Bible when God doles out punishment and love. When His mercy seems endless on those who have done so much wrong and when the unfairness of his wrath is almost too painful to read. Job knew this all too well. A man who refused to curse God in the midst of so much loss. Stripped down to nothingness~ lost without his children and his home~ bankrupt, burdened and sick. And yet…he praised. And I don’t understand it………….but I do.
The story of Jacob and Esau is probably one of the most riveting in the whole Bible. Esau~should have received his father’s birthright but Jacob duped them both. And God, knowing all of this , still blessed Jacob. Why? There are so many elements to this story. So many unanswered questions. Jacob himself was duped into marrying Leah, the sister of Rachel, whom he loved more than anything. He ends up with them both~the one he wants and the one he doesn’t. And at the end of the story we find the beginning of a nation~ Israel. I am not a scholar and I do not understand why God would choose this man to be the namesake of His chosen people but maybe within that one act is a lesson to us all. That God sees us, He knows us and He will use us when we are broken, bad, lonely, afraid, searching, sinning, lying, cheating and stealing~ He will meet us face to face. He will restore relationships and lead us on journeys. But it won’t be pretty and it probably won’t be fun. Oh, and it won’t be fair. Perhaps that is what is really meant in 1 Samuel 16:6 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. God does not look at the situation the way we do. And I don’t look at any situation the same way as my kids. It’s the whole rule about making a judgement call on a case by case basis. Something that has been sadly lost in our “fair” and “equal” world. I’m not saying that I always agree with God’s ways. But that’s why He is God and I am not. I’m getting a bit frustrated with His methods~ I have no shame in saying that. This is a conversation I have over and over and over with him……just like my kids do with me. *insert lightbulb here* But I do know that at the end of my story, there will be a purpose, a moral, a truth~ I hope that there will be anyways.
I have been asked recently , many times actually, if there’s something I need to confess? Like, do I have some unresolved issues with God. Uhhh…..wow. All I can say is that I daily bring all that I am and all that I have to the Lord and I ask Him if He needs more from me, wants more from me, what can I do? Sometimes, like a parent, I don’t think He’s really listening. I mean, I’m trying here but it doesn’t seem to matter. And sometimes the answer is just “wait”. Or “soon”. Or “it’s better that you don’t know everything right now”. And like an impatient, bratty adolescent I run to my bedroom, slam my door and scream into my pillow. Because I want answers now….actually, no , that’s not right. I want answers RIGHT NOW. And I want them to be the nicely packaged, tidy answers that will make my life easy………and fair. *sigh*
I haven’t learned I guess. I’ve been working on this concept for years now and I still haven’t got the kinks out of it. This is the failure of the human spirit: We want what we want when we want it and we want it now. Don’t tell me you haven’t been there. It’s happened to us all , just on different topics. You want a baby, and no baby ever comes. You want a husband and he never shows up to the wedding you’ve been planning for 20 years. You want a better job, a new job, any job. You don’t want cancer, you want your cancer healed, you want the cancer your child has so that she doesn’t have to go through the pain. It’s hard. I know. Because everytime I turn around and think it’s going to be okay: we’re moving on, our house will sell………….WHAM! there’s another obstacle, another heartache, another disappointment. And I am discouraged.
Between the DIS and the MENT…….is COURAGE.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you Where am I going with this? What is the point? Well, the point is that sometimes , often, usually…life is not fair. But God is just and strong…….and HIS COURAGE goes before us , with us and behind us. He pushes us, He holds us up, He even drags us…..into His presence. It’s a rough and rocky road. It is difficult. But consider this: if your life was perfect, your kids were perfect, your husband only ever brought you flowers, sang you love songs and wooed you with his handsome face…..if the dog never barfed on the carpet and the cats never dug up your flower beds, if your daughter never yelled at you and your son always helped with his laundry…..if there was always money in the bank and food in the fridge, if you got a tropical vacation at least once a year and your business always made money……..if Grandma never died and Mom never got cancer, if Dad never divorced Mom and your sister still talked to you……….where would there be room for God in your life? Seriously~ if you never had NEED of Him…where would He be? We may not like the methods…..but there is a purpose…….stripped, broken and hurting……we come to the feet of Jesus and in His presence is where we daily live. But only by His grace and mercy. Because HE, beaten, stripped and broken had the courage to face what we cannot. And sometimes I cry…but it’s okay. Because He cries with me. Check out this video…it’s so good: Sometimes I Cry