Wednesday, November 8, 2017
It Is Unfair
Those of you who follow me on IG perhaps read my rather dramatic posts earlier this week on the whole swim class debacle. I won't rehash it in detail here, but to sum up:
Deanna extended huge energy (HUGE), every last bit of effort she had left in her to get Carter into a special swim class, and thing after thing blocked it until Deanna found herself standing at the desk, talking to the person who assured her in-person sign up was better, being denied a spot in the class 9 minutes after registration opened while someone online got the last spot. (followed directions exactly...poured 110% of effort into it....received a big fat NO for no logical reason.)
And yes, I believed everything that I wrote about in my mini IG posts. Yes, it's good to teach kids to deal with disappointment. Yes, I am grateful for many things even in the midst of a messy morning.
But. It wouldn't let me go.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that it was a much bigger issue that I needed to pinpoint and acknowledge.
Life is unfair. And sometimes this makes me angry.
What manifested itself in my response to swim class unfairness actually dug so much deeper..
I worked hard, so so hard to have a healthy and amazing pregnancy. And yet my first baby was born with many health problems and a life-long disability.
My body let me down.
I killed myself in undergrad and grad school to build a successful career as a musician. And then we moved to Vermont where the only jobs I could get were several part time music teacher gigs cobbled together not even in the same district which meant that my insurance costs stole most of my paycheck.
My talent let me down.
My Prince Charming started his own landscape business....and those of you who know anything about running your own business know the long long hours required here. I put in long years supporting his career to end up having to do a lot of solo parenting.
My marriage let me down.
I put in years and years of working to become a legit writer. It's been 7 years and I'm still in the "working on it" phase.
My ambition and desire to help others let me down.
Life is unfair. And I feel like I've constantly been let down. By myself. By others. By circumstances.
By the lady in charge of swim class sign ups.
And yet, even as I read back over that list, I can see full circle.
My body may have "let me down", but God never did. He had every single part of that planned. Because of his perfect plan, my life has been transformed in every possible way. Down syndrome wasn't my "body letting me down" even though it truly felt like it at the time. Down syndrome was a door opening to a new world, one that I didn't even realize previously had existed. Down syndrome has been a beautiful gift to our family, and I wouldn't trade Addison for the world.
All of my music training has uniquely prepared me for the part-time teaching working that I now do. It fits right around the kids' schedules, and perfectly it fills the "need for music" part of my soul. I am able to do something I love (music) while still being present for my kids (also something I love). It's tricky to explain, but every single bit of that effort prepared me just for this. (Also, the insurance money that "stole most of my paycheck" ended up being the best insurance possible when you have a baby with a long NICU stay and multiple heart surgeries. That insurance ended up saving our butts.)
My Prince Charming's landscaping work has been so faithful to provide for our family. And having to do a lot of solo parenting has grown me in ways I didn't even know I needed while this additional marital conflict has allowed us to work hard at our marriage. 11 years in we are far from perfect. But we are certainly no strangers to staring conflict and hard times in the face and pushing through, by God's grace.
My writing work? Well, they say it takes struggle to write a truly great book. I don't know that I'll ever achieve the "great book" status, but I've got the struggle part down, so that's gotta count for something. (-;
But the truth is, sometimes unfairness happens when we don't have the perspective of time to trace back the full circle story. We don't always get a "oh THAT'S why!"
It hurts. It stings. And the more effort we put in, the angrier it makes us when an unfair bad outcome meets us at the finish line.
God never promises that life will be fair. In fact, after a recent church study on the book of Job, it's sobering to realize just how unfair life can get.
So why? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do really awesome families have babies who are sick?
You want to talk unfair?
Why are incredible people gunned down in public? In church? Why does just existing in America these days mean you are at the risk of being shot by whoever feels like going on a rampage? What is happening here?
The unfairness is so unfathomable that my fingers shake with anger just writing that.
This is so much deeper than an innocent blog post, but I want to reference a seminar I attended Monday night.
I think that bad things happen to good people to remind us to rely on the Lord. That we can't do this alone and there is so much strength and goodness available to us if we just ask. To remind us that He's got this, and he wants to to turn to him to experience his grace, love, and peace firsthand.
And most importantly to remind us that this earth is not our home.
At our seminar on Monday we read Psalm 23. I forgot how beautiful this passage is.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth oil.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In all of these "unfair" instances, God has never let me down. Not once. He was with me every step of the way. Sick baby. Rocky career. Tough marriage moments. Writing struggle.
He was there, gently leading me through each moment of unfairness. Furthermore, he planned it all for my good and orchestrated growth for me and my family each step of the way. Not for the ultimate goal of making things more fair. To make us more like him.
When we say "God is good" it's not that life will never be unfair. It's that his goodness will shine alongside us and through us as we experience unfairness. His goodness will hold us up. His goodness will remind us that all of this stuff and life success is not the point of living.
This Thanksgiving season, I am grateful. I am overflowing with thankfulness. Not because this world is even a little bit fair.
Not because life plays out exactly like I think it should in my head.
But because I have the gift of my heavenly Shepherd guiding me, comforting me, carrying me even if it were through the valley of the shadow of death. From the silliest of things like swim classes to the deepest, most hurtful of things as death. He's got this. And he designed it somehow to bring glory to him and for our ultimate good.
And for that I'm grateful.
After writing all of this out yesterday and acknowledging this bigger issue in my heart that needed confronting, I showed up at the scene of the swim class signup yesterday with a dozen donuts.
I led with, "I'm sure your day was really rough yesterday with such a tricky signup system and frustrated parents (me) flocking your desk. I'm so sorry for your rough day, and I'm sorry if I added to that in any way. Thank you for working so hard to provide such an incredible program for our kids. We appreciate you and everything that you do. Here are some awesome donuts. I hope your day today is really great."
Kindness. It flows from gratitude. Love. It can blossom from the bitter dirt of unfairness.
And when it does? It's not of us.
It's the work of the gentle Shepherd who leads each step with incredible, heart-changing care.
He's got this.