It’s Not Fair

One student makes straight A’s without trying, and another does everything she can to pull a C.

One sister has stair-step babies, and the other can’t conceive in twenty years.

One friend’s parents thoughtfully encourage their children’s strengths. Another set of parents disregards or disapproves.

One lady has a husband and a respected degree by age thirty. Another has neither at sixty.

One girl is wooed by the man of her dreams. Another girl is invisible except to a mental patient.

One friend has money to vacation in Italy while another can’t afford a $20 concert ticket.

One couple celebrates one year of marriage and pronounces the year fun. Another couple fights three kinds of deadly cancer in their first year.

It’s not fair.

You shake your head at the balance scales. You whisper the words to a friend because for some reason you’re not supposed to say them. Or you sob into your pillow until you snort, and the universe keeps on humming, and friends never mention the disparity, and  the scenario keeps on not being fair.

To the one with a grim diagnosis. To the single bridesmaid at the eleventeenth wedding. To the bereaved and wrecked and poor: it’s not fair.

This is reality when the sun shines or when the rain blows. The Almighty and Omnipotent Father sits on His beautiful hands and does nothing to level the balance scales. There is no justice. You can do everything right and be a good girl and do what you were always told to do but there are no guarantees and it’s a fallacy to believe that everything will turn out like it should.

Part of my journey to wholeness includes being honest about the injustices I observe and experience. It seems much more wholesome to be able to call a spade a spade than to act as if it’s something else.

So: it’s not fair.

There are things I weep and howl over, dreams I ache for, friends I hurt with, prayers I beg God with the most persuasive words I can find.  To do otherwise would be to deny reality and be a flippant, chirpy, hollow, obnoxious voice in a cavern of unanswerable questions.

While maturity acknowledges that things aren’t fair, wisdom doesn’t stay there. It’s a child who mopes and sits outside the game and whines that it’s not fair. An adult who does that for days and weeks and months is pretty ugly, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no easy way to do this, but when that forty-leventh bride has been whisked into the sunset, you sometimes have to take yourself by the scruff of the neck and turn yourself 180 degrees toward the east and make a list of other things that aren’t fair.

This is part of my list:

  • I sleep on a dry, thick, super-comfy Tuft and Needle mattress while refugees sleep on blankets that hang out of their tiny, squished-together tents.
  • I have a job that enabled me to buy a car, while a friend can only afford to drive a borrowed car.
  • I’m lonely and long for companionship but it’s not fair that another woman’s loneliness is infinitely, agonizingly greater after her husband abandoned her and their three little children, the baby with Down Syndrome.
  • I had major surgery in a foreign country and had the best of care and no complications and have been given a new life but my friend battles incurable illness and huge medical costs.

It’s not fair.

I’m stupendously, staggeringly, unreasonably rich and spoiled and comfortable, and it’s not a bit fair. It’s not fair that my friends and the rest of humanity walk through crazy amounts of pain and tears that I never do. I’m not being glib or flippant about this. I cry often about sad things and injustice and longings on my behalf and others’. I experience hard, hard, things about each of my list entries.

But the great and grand and shining reality is that the present injustice is not all there is. It takes the long view to see more than is apparent to the naked eye. The long view is the truest view.

It’s ok to say it’s not fair, but it’s not ok to stay there. Because at some point–after about an hour or a day or a week–wisdom and grace and the presence of Jesus are waiting to turn us to the east and see light and hope and a far green country under a swift sunrise.*

*That last phrase is what Gandalph said.

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Rates and Over-Rates

According to the numbers, I lost more than half of my blog readers when Google Reader finished. Am I supposed to do something about this?  I’m a little sad about it, but not too much because I’m not writing/blogging these days anyhow. This is the season when teachers rest their brains and give themselves permission to be dormant. At least this teacher does.

I think mostly in single words or lines these days.

Over-rated:

first impressions

clothes’ brand-names

color-coordination. So why doesn’t blue and green work?

silk ivy leaves

whitened teeth

chevron stripes

blog stats

bloggers’ opinions

Can’t over-rate:

going barefoot all day every day

babies’ peach-skin cheeks

wild fuchsias in hedgerows

spicy nachos and cold Coke

breakfast in the sun

swimming in a wild sea cove

To mull:

Most people, most of the time, are doing the best they can.

“The cure for everything is saltwater–sweat, tears, or the sea. “–Isak Dinesen

Good relationships come from large helpings of grace and redemption mixed with a little amnesia.

 

Perspective

Good artists, I’m told, know what  perspective is. I don’t know much about horizons and lines doing the right things on a page, even though I had my first acrylics painting lesson recently and found it completely exhilarating. But back to perspective: I know that everyone needs it, more than only graphic artists.

Last week one day, spring finally, finally arriving, I happily wore my new shoes that Michelle had talked me into buying. It was liberation to put away the winter boots and wear something light. As I walked down the sidewalk, I noticed a woman scowling at my shoes. My cute, brown shoes didn’t deserve a look like that. In a flash, I decided that she was narrowing her eyes at them because she was jealous, not because she thought they were ugly or unseasonable. Perspective.

The next day a mother interrupted my English lesson by knocking and handing a huge orange to us, her two children and me. A single orange, in the middle of doing a worksheet.   I found a knife to peel it, and the children and I ate the segments, dripping and squirting, between questions about spring. I remembered the stories of women who got one orange for Christmas when they were girls in communist Poland. They savored just the fragrance for several days before peeling it.

Perspective. Contrast. Color.

An artist needs an accurate way of seeing things. Not only for a project on a canvas, but for the whole of life.

I’m learning, slowly. That crooked lines and dark colors aren’t the whole picture. That the person next to me sees something differently from me because of where she’s standing, not because her eyes don’t work.  That failure and coloring outside the lines is not fatal but a sign of life.

To the Women I Saw Yesterday

Dear Women on the Street,

I walked past you this morning, sun shining and snow glittering. I was wearing my long down-filled coat, with the hood up, practically wrapped up in a blanket. I want to ask you why you scowled at me, raking me over with your eyes–eyes filled with what seemed to be contempt and disdain and disapproval.

I don’t get it.

Was it the tall hood that looks sort of like an astronaut? But lots of other ladies use their hoods too.

No, mine isn’t fur or even fur-lined. Was it the unfashionable tan color you disapproved of?

And I don’t wear mascara or lip-stick, but surely I wasn’t so haggard-looking that my un-painted face shocked you into scowling.

I was smiling. Was that it? The sun was shining, and I was happy thinking about the day and what I had to do before hosting my sister’s baby shower. Was it the smile that shocked you?

Would it be too much to ask for you to smile back? Yeah, I thought so.

You know, some days it gets to be Too Much. Some days I think I’ve had it with women who obsess about their hair and skin and nails and figure and I want to say CAN WE PLEASE JUST BE? Can we just relax and say I’m ok–you’re ok. You’re ok, just the way God made you, and I don’t have to prove anything, and you don’t either.

This class-consciousness, this taboo list of what you can wear or not wear because of what year it was fashionable, this caste system that has untouchables and upper-caste, I’m sick of it. Sick of the favoritism and elitism and snobbery. Sick of the capriciousness and pressure to perform. Is that why you can’t smile–you’re worn out from it?

So I opt out of it, and I’m happy to be out of the race. I probably don’t care enough about clothes and how I look, but I aim to be clean, smell nice, and dress modestly. Which is a whole other subject, and we won’t get into that here.

But please, please, please, if the sun shines and the snow is like glitter, please smile. Just try to eek out a little pleasure from the spires stretching into the sky and children on sleds.

I know it’s a sad world, and we cry when we see the news about children being shot, and our friends are ill, and our hearts are smashed into bits for reasons that no one knows. I know, I know, and it’s ok to cry.

And I know it’s different in this country, when you used to be able to curry favor from the police if you told them about an insurrectionist like me who didn’t do everything that everyone else did.

But today is today! The sun is shining! I’m walking past you and I’m not SO ugly!

I beg you, ladies, please smile back at me! It would make me so happy.