Monday, April 23, 2001

"Life’s Not Fair – and THAT’S OK!"

I have made a scientific discovery with which I’m sure you will agree. When children are formed in the womb, somewhere in the final stages of development, a DNA chip appears in their brains. Not many scientists have recognized it, but every parent knows it is there. It is called the "life should be fair" chip. Without exception, everyone is born with it.

Sheila and I have discovered it in each of our young ones. We have four children - one of each. Andrew, Carissa (now known as Kris), Amber and Chadd. They are all very different, but the same in many ways. Each has the Shaffer eyes, the Shaffer hair, the Shaffer sense of humor, many of the same tastes. One of the large ways they are all the same is that early in life each uttered the very same phrase, "That's not fair!" It comes from the chip!

I’m cutting pieces of birthday cake and one of these children says, "That’s not fair, she got a bigger piece." It’s the chip!

A younger child is toted off to bed and notices her older sibling doesn’t have to go to bed yet. "That’s not fair, he should have to go to bed, too." It’s the chip!

A younger child gets some new, spiffy pajamas. The older one says, "That’s not fair, I should get something new, too." It’s the chip!

An on and on and on it goes. You’d think it would get better as children get older, but the chip does not naturally disintegrate.

My mother-in-law thought that life should be fair for her children, so she tried to make it so. One December Sheila’s older sister asked for a baby carriage for Christmas. The result: all four girls got baby carriages. They had parades around the house. Probably jockeying for the lead and arguing that it wasn’t fair that everybody else got to be in front longer. Was that fair? NO. It was equal. That, in itself, was not fair. Sheila wanted a doll. At Easter time, Sheila's mom would equally count out the jellybeans she put into each child's Easter basket in an attempt to be fair. Was that fair? No, it was equal. What about the child who doesn't like jelly beans? Especially the black and green ones.

The DNA chip is in each one of us. We want life to be fair. We even think life should be fair.

When someone else is promoted we cry, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

When we don't get that raise we moan, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

When our spouse doesn't deliver we whine, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

When our children act in ways we don’t see others acting, we complain, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

When life doesn't provide us with the abilities, the possessions, the talents, the opportunities we see others have, we cry out like children, "THAT’S NOT FAIR!"

My children don't say it much any more. Not because the chip is gone, but because they've learned it is not worth listening to the response. They know my answer to that exclamation will always be the same, "LIFE'S NOT FAIR!" You get a smaller piece of cake, well, life’s not fair. You don’t get to stay up as late? Well, life’s not fair. You don’t get new pajamas? Well, life’s not fair. You don’t get the promotion, or the raise or the talents or the opportunities… Well, life’s not fair. No one ever promised life would be nor should it be.

NOW HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART - do you know what? That's OK. Yes, you read it right. Read it again. Life's not fair, never will be, wasn't created to be… and that’s OK. Really it is. It may not feel like it, but it is.

God is in charge, we’re His kids, He loves us all the same, but He does not promise that life will be fair. In fact He promised just the opposite.

""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."" John 16:33 (NIV)

If we insist on fairness and strive to get it on our own, we often short circuit God's ultimate better plan. Remember if Joseph (you know, the guy with multi colored coat whose brothers sold him) had pouted about the unfairness of his life, he would have never become vice president of the world. Life's not fair, and it really is OK. God's in charge.

"As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people." Genesis 50:20 (TLB)

Life's not fair, and that's OK. When we accept that truth about life, it gets much easier to handle. We will accept the difficulties we are handed as a normal part of life instead of believing something is wrong when unfairness comes. That pain is a part of breathing. That in this world those who don't deserve it are going to get things we never do. By accepting the truth of God that life is not fair and tossing out the lie that life should be fair we give God the opportunity to make us grow from the unfairnesss into BETTER people instead of BITTER people.

Then the chip begins to disintegrate. And we can get on with doing life the way God designed us to do it.

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