Not Fair!!

So, I’ve put about 1,500 miles on my car in the last week, going to an interesting set of events, all of which have exposed me to great thoughts and fresh insights…  [I went to the National Worship Leaders Conference East in Lancaster, PA–wonderfully teaching andinspirational; and to the TEDxPSU event in University Park, PA–great event with excellent speakers; and a few other events at Penn State–I love the interaction with students and leaders there]  Unfortunately, all of the travel left me pretty wiped out each night and I just didn’t get here to share the insights at all.  But God had as plan, as always, and He’s put something else in my line of sight to write about first…

My guess is that every parent has heard the cry of “Not fair!” at some point in raising their child.  Maybe in response to an action the parents took, maybe in recounting the latest trickiness on the playground.  But it’s a very common and natural reaction–even as we get older.  It seems a very natural reaction to events around us to claim that the outcome is just not fair.

This week at the dinner table, we had a lengthy discussion about what wasn’t fair.  The complaint was that this person got to do more activities than that person and how that was unfair.  My logical prowess led me to a perfect mathematical explanation that the combination of individuals and activities and friendships would always lead to the outcome that was so unfair, so I concluded we couldn’t get too upset over it.  FYI, my mathematical proofs are rarely a satisfactory explanation for fifth grade drama…

But then we talked about the same topic in our Men of Faith session yesterday touched on this, too.  And we talked about a very useful distinction.  My reaction to the “not fair” claim is always a vague counter-claim in the back of my mind that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts…which isn’t truly satisfying.  But it is useful to consider the difference between our question of “fair” and what God always offers as “justice.”  When I look at the “unfair” claims I hear, they seem to be based on the expectations of the person making the claim.  Our expectations so often evolve from our emotional assessment of the world–our compassion for a situation, our personal sense of loss or envy, our resentments over being passed over, even our shame over outcomes.  The difference that I see with God’s justice is that it is always based in truth, in the eduring facts of who God is.  The truth of how God has orchestrated situations is almost always far beyond our understanding, but always based on the truth of who He is.  Which so often collides with our more narrowly driven emotional assessments.

My thought is that, perhaps optimally, as we grow spiritually and mature in our relationship with God, our emoitional and logical assessments of what is “fair” will be more and more informed by the truth of who God is, so that our desires will increasingly be for the justice of God’s orchestrations rather than the emotional security of what we’d always thought of as “fair.”  I do kind of hope that, over time, I can feel less and less of the “not fair” dissatifaction and feel more of the peace that I know comes from having my thoughts more in line with the will of God.

And I think that’s how I can be a bit better parent–to help shape expectations more and more with the truth of God’s word.  Which is part of what the Deuteronomy told us to do as parents: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

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About puyman314

I am one of the volunteer worship leaders at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, PA, where I've attended since 1973. I was baptized, confirmed, married there...my daughter was baptized and confirmed there...and I GET to be a worship leader there! I work hard at being a useful follower of Jesus Christ, and I try to share what I learn and my passion for worship with others. By day I'm a professional computer geek and 24/7 I'm a husband and father and son and friend.
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