It doesn’t take many years of living on this earth to learn life isn’t fair. Whether you’re the one to discover an empty box after your siblings beat you to the Little Debbie’s hiding place, or you find yourself on the receiving end of hurtful, dishonest words as a result of someone else’s pain- it seems the pain of injustice only becomes more and more familiar as we age. As it stands, the simple switch of a television set or 5 seconds spent on Twitter sides with painful reminders of the broken state of our world today.
How on earth do we cope? The easiest answer, and perhaps the most common, is to look the other way. Slap on a smile and throw on some Netflix, right? Stay positive and think about happy things! Maybe you’ll forget.
Although I am ALL for Netflix at the appropriate timing, here’s the thing: If you have a perpetual, withstanding cross to carry, whether it be chronic illness, another disability, or any heavy burden, really- looking away is not an option. It’s just there. Always.
In the case of chronic illness, this may look like having a job you love but not having the capacity to serve in ways your heart desires to be serving. It means not having time to invest in the people in your life as you would like. It’s not being able to eat the food you want to eat, or do the kinds of exercise you love doing.
Maybe for you it’s having a job you don’t enjoy for one second. Or not having any relationships at all in your life that are life-giving and fulfilling.
Eventually, your situation may begin to impact you financially and leave you without the ability to make ends meet. That feeling that others can’t relate or the extra amount of time it takes to take care of yourself leads to loneliness and isolation. Perhaps the most heartbreaking? The constant presence of that heavy burden leaves you feeling disconnected from who you are and the areas you’re truly gifted.
This brings me right back to that feeling of disappointment when discovering the empty box of Lil Debbie’s: This. Is. Not. FAIR. And when it’s constant? We can’t forget.
So if distraction’s not an option, then again: how do we cope?
Perhaps the reason we want to look away is because the pain seems so meaningless, the mess seems like a waste, and the hard things seem like ugly things. But what if this is not the case? What if, somehow, these stupid, painful, heartbreaking situations, could provide an opportunity to produce a greater glory?
Pondering these questions presents a new perspective: a perspective that trusts that somehow, someway, our messes can serve purpose; they can bring just as much (or more) life and good to our world as the parts of us that feel more flashy.
Choosing to believe this means not running from the mess but freely wading into it. It means we look our pain and unfortunate circumstances in the face and tell it that we are still loved and our lives are still being made beautiful— even in the midst of it. It doesn’t make suffering easy and it doesn’t mean any of it is fair. But it does mean we can walk through it without losing dignity- a Gospel truth that cannot be taken away from us.
The more we choose to believe in this ourselves, the more we can do so for others in their pain.