Life’s not fair, and there is mystery involved. When we know there is a bigger story going on then perhaps grace can heal the wounds.
It was always the same conversation. Life’s not fair.
They didn’t just carry a chip on their shoulder, it was a gigantic log, and it filled them with bitterness and anger.
It was their employer, the kids, the church in general, the church down the road, the pastor of the church, the people who went to the church.
They wanted something; maybe it was fairness. Perhaps it was justice, a balancing of the scales, in their favor.
Yet, I think even if all of the world were tilted in their favor, they would still not have found peace.
I had no answers to the questions, allegations, and demands.
The mystery of how we see
I have on my computer screen a post-it note with this quote.
We do not see things as they are.
We see things as we are.
Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani
How much does pain influence our perceptions? Do we see things as they truly are?
What they most needed was to be known in the pain.
A good garden
I believe that we all have a deep subconscious longing for the garden. The biblical story starts with a garden of pure generosity, of balance. No crying, no want, no strife.
The biblical narrative finishes with a new heaven and new earth. A beautiful garden, a tree of life, water flowing.
In between, where we are now, is a mess. Weed filled, broken, tumbled down, ill-fitting to a creation designed for beauty. We have glimpses, tantalizing tastes of delight, then they are gone.
I have never truly found anything in this world that will satisfy my deepest longings.
There is a longing for a crown, yet I have been handed a straw hat for the garden.
I know there is more yet I am given a crumb.
I have an attitude of entitlement, ‘I deserve better than this’ because, well, we were created for something better than this.
I am lost in injustice, but I am not alone.
A cry to be known
Perhaps when we cry out ‘Life’s not fair’ we are asking to be known.
That we are not alone in the weedy garden but have others. People who will listen and weed along side us. Friends who will help us make the world a little bit better each day.
What is God like to you?
How you view God is how you will view everything. If you see God as a dispenser of justice, then you will always be living in a legal mindset. If you see God as being distant and unconcerned, then you will feel alone with the struggle.
Perhaps God is like a lottery machine, balls tumbling out in favor for some and not for others.
I believe God is a dancing community of three that knows all and is with you in all.
In your depression, anxiety, voices, phobias, addictions God is there with a promise of eternal perspective.
I’m not sure who said this, but it goes along these lines.
‘If you were to know all, you would forgive all.’
If you were to see and know everything behind the felt injustices you experience then your perspective would change.
It’s a dangerous prayer to pray when you whisper ‘God, help me see what you see.’
You are the Christ on a cross of suffering asking God to forgive the tormentors because they have such limited thinking of what they are doing.
‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’ Luke 23:34
If we could see the big picture, the meta-narrative of the eternal story, we would fall back and worship.
I need to be known
Life hurts, but the deepest hurt is when no one cares about the burden you are carrying.
I believe that we all have a desire to be known, explored, discovered and touched.
That in the pain of injustice, unfairness, and inequality that we get to taste something of Edens delight. A place where there was no shame or pain, only naked vulnerability, and love.
You hurt, but you’re not alone.
Yes, we pursue fairness and putting into place systems of social justice and equality, but we remember that the perfume of grace lingers much longer than justice.
Justice – is getting what is deserved
Mercy – is not getting what is deserved
Grace – is getting what is not deserved
Can we give grace to ourselves and others?
Life is not fair, and there is mystery. When we know there is a bigger story going on then perhaps grace can heal the wounds.
Quotes to consider
- Before you complain that life should be fair because God is fair, remember that life is not God – do not confuse the two. David Riddell
- This life isn’t fair. If you always INSIST on justice, you’ll be angry all of your life. (Don’t make a ‘god’ out of justice.) David Riddell
- Our souls grow as we practice holding the tension associated with the lack of fairness and justice in a world that doesn’t run as reason or social ideals suggest it ought. David G. Benner Soulful Spirituality
- Unfortunately, the most common view of God’s judgment is retributive justice, which appeals to the ego, rather than restorative justice, which brings true transformation. Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love
- A grievance begins when part of our life turns out radically different from what we expected. Frederic Luskin
- Grievances are formed when people are unable to deal successfully with not getting what they wanted and then they rent too much space in their minds to the injustice. Frederic Luskin
Questions to answer
- Is God fair?
- What would it be like to be deeply known?
- What burden of injustices are you carrying? How much poison is swilling around in your soul because of this pain?
Image cc: Nathan Peterson
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Barry is a writer, coach, and course creator that has a passion for Mental Health and Spiritual Formation.
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