Faith & The Seeming Unfairness of Life
Today my friend Juan of JuanOfWords.com, wrote about faith. (I encourage you to click over and read it.)
“I recently tried to blog about this but the post sits in my drafts because it ended cynically and I don’t like to spread negativity if possible. Faith has never been easy for me but unlike you, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found it more difficult.
Not having that belief that “everything happens for a reason” and is part of a bigger plan – that there is someone in charge up there that knows what is going on even when it looks like chaos from down here – having the unsettling feeling that we’re on our own, doesn’t feel good.
Faith is not something that can be bought or forced. If it could be, I’d spend good money to stock up on it just for the comfort it can provide.
The natural optimist in me won’t go down that easily though. There’s a tiny spark of hope that I’m wrong. My heart and mind are in constant battle over this… I’ve had to accept this, and accept that my definition of faith isn’t the solid kind some are lucky enough to stand on. My faith is something fleeting that I must constantly chase.”
As a result, Juan encouraged me to finish this post and hit the publish button… and so here it is – a post that otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
“It’s not fair!” … These three words of indignation are one of the first phrases we learn as children. We shout it at our parents with a stamp of our foot when we’ve been denied something we want and it’s thrown around on school playgrounds across the nation as much as those bouncy red balls.
“It’s not fair!” was a phrase that was especially easy for me to employ as a middle child. With an older sister who was granted more freedoms and a little sister who was bestowed more mercy, there was plenty to find unfair, and maybe because of my birth order, it’s easy for me to perceive injustice, whether it’s done to myself, someone I love, or a complete stranger.
“It’s not fair!” I’d shout, and my wise mother would calmly respond, “Life’s not fair.”
Middle children are called “peace-makers”, (as well as “trouble-makers”, but that’s another story.) … We are accustomed to being sandwiched in the middle seat of a hot station wagon. We know what it’s like when one person is taking more than their fair share, (“Mom! She’s touching me!”)… and I guess that affects our view on the world. We like to make things fair, for ourselves and for others, and there are few things more frustrating than when the power to do that is completely out of our hands.
Eventually that frustration has to become something. It festers like an infected wound. It can become discontent, depression, cynicism. I look out at the world and increasingly find myself disappointed with the lack of fairness, and unable to shake it off as I used to. When I was younger, I’d wrap myself up in optimism. Close my eyes and think happy thoughts until my short attention span managed to be distracted and occupied by something full of fluffy goodness. People living in poverty… It’s so unfair… Ooo! Cake on a stick!
These days it seems there isn’t enough cake on a stick in all the world to make me forget the unfairness that is life. This is when many people will lean on their faith. The belief that there is a higher power, that it all happens for a reason, that someone up there is looking out for us – it is comforting. Like a child at the beach who walks deeper and deeper into the waves, looking over his shoulder every once in awhile to make sure his mother is there to run to him and pull him out when the tide gets too rough.
But what if you don’t have that sort of faith? Those with an abundance of faith may see it as a willful rebellion, but I can assure you, it is not. We are all gifted different gifts, and resigned to accept certain flaws. A doubting mind, a mind that questions, a mind that can not be shut off, is one of those things many of us would trade in a heartbeat. There is no comfort in looking back at the shore and seeing that no one is watching over us as we feel the sand slip beneath our toes.
So, with a lack of strong faith, and an increasingly cynical world view, where does that leave me? Should I simply accept this as my new reality? Am I capable of waking each morning knowing that I’ll encounter injustices in this world that I can do nothing about?
I began writing this without knowing where I would finish it. Something in my heart demands that I dig down deep and find that fluffy goodness that makes everything okay again, but I don’t want to be trite. I don’t want to pretend that there is always a happy ending. For myself, maybe I can truthfully say that so far life has demonstrated to me time and time again, that everything happens for a reason – but it’s not fair for me to say it’s a universal truth. It’s not fair for me to speak on behalf of others who may not see their reality that way.
(Image source: Libertinus)