My six-year-old son flung his body to the floor, sobbing. Instant tears flooded his red face and splashed onto the carpet. With a reverberating scream, he explained the problem: “THEY’RE CHEATING!!!! IT’S NOT FAIR!!!”
Forget the fact that Zach’s “they” in this scenario referenced animated characters on a Wii baseball team. Forget that Zach was still winning the game by a landslide. Kids take fairness very seriously. If someone breaks the rules, they want justice and they want it quickly. Even if the one seemingly breaking the rules is an inanimate object.
When Zach has this type of outburst (They are regular; he’s an ardent child.), I am torn about how to handle it. Part of me wants to correct him for yelling at the TV and getting so upset. He should be more tempered, right? Part of me wants to laugh at the sight of his lanky, 35-pound body being so filled with passion and fury. And part of me envies his sense of righteousness. He will defend with his whole being what he believes to be good and true.
Somehow between elementary school and adulthood, we lose our vehement defense of justice. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who consistently reminds her children that “life isn’t fair.” Well, no, life isn’t fair, but does that make it right? At what point do we simply accept things as they are? At what point do we stop fighting for things to be just?
A while back I posted about redshirting. I still occasionally get emails or comments about it. My husband and I still have bouts of anger and frustration over it. This weekend someone contacted me to defend her choice and actions. Her argument concluded that “fairness is irrelevant.”
I don’t really want to talk about redshirting anymore. I’ve said what I need to say. This, however, is a completely different issue. It reaches further than school regulations, parenting decisions or who’s the biggest kid on the athletic field. Fairness is rarely irrelevant. It only seems that way to those with the upper hand. When tables turn, regardless of the issue, opinions almost always change.
Whenever I remind my kids that life isn’t fair, I also remind them that we’re usually on the better end of that stick. Grace isn’t fair. Mercy isn’t fair. It’s not fair that we live in a gorgeous home in a nice neighborhood with good schools and lots of opportunity. It’s not fair that some are born into poverty and famine. It’s not fair that some children are disposed of simply because of gender or inconvenience.
Life isn’t fair, but God help us if we believe that means justice holds no value! Sometimes we’re on the upside and sometimes we’re on the downside. I pray that God will give me the strength and courage to fight for justice regardless of how closely the injustice hits home. I want to love mercy. I want to act justly. I want to walk humbly knowing that all I have is undeserved. I want to defend what is right. I want to remember what is relevant.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
~ Micah 6:8 (NIV 1984)
Your Turn: How do you love both mercy and justice? If you’re a parent, how do you teach your kids to foster fairness and equality without becoming embittered by the things they can’t change?