At one time or another, we’ve all complained that life isn’t fair. Children do it all the time: Karen, who is older by two years, is allowed to stay up later than her younger siblings. They complain to dad that they’re being treated unjustly, not realizing that at the same age her bedtime was thirty minutes earlier. As adults, we attribute this behavior to immaturity and expect that as children grow and develop this rationale will make way for a more judicious way of thinking . Sadly, many people carry this mind-set with them well into adulthood. Two of my favorite comedians from years back, Tom and Dick Smothers, had a standing skit where one grumbled that “Mom always liked you best!”, indicating a biased favoritism. On stage, this is entertaining. In real life, it’s unflattering and harmful.
Gary Zukov, NY Times bestselling author of The Seat of the Soul, says that the most important thing we have are our belief systems. Our entire lives are built upon them and if inaccurate we struggle and suffer. Believing that life was designed to be fair and balanced is a faulty tenet. When we see an perceived injustice we seek to recreate rightfulness. When it is not forthcoming, we feel frustrated and discriminated against. “I should have gotten that promotion, not the boss’s son. I’ve been here longer. That’s not fair!”
In our relationships, especially the close, personal or intimate ones, this kind of mindset can prove devastating. There are those who actually keep score: “I helped you when you needed it. Now you should give me a hand as well. That’s only right.” “I paid for our last evening out. Now it’s your turn.” In an attempt to keep things equitable, we manipulate the other party into feeling guilty should they decline our request. Seeking equality is a futile endeavor – it simply does not exist in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect human beings. Attempting to do so is one of the quickest ways to build anger and resentment – toxic ingredients capable of destroying lives.
Life isn’t fair yet it is perfectly just. The lyrics to a Colin Raye song state that “You don’t always get what you want, you get what you need.” If we subscribe to this premise, which I do, then life is exactly what we need it to be. Each experience, each individual, each loss, each success is exactly what is necessary for us to fulfill our Divine Destiny, our Dharma (as Wayne Dyer calls it). If my child wants to be a great artist, I provide them with the proper canvases, brushes, and paints. If my son has a sprained ankle, I get him crutches. Identical? No. Fair? Yes. Each is receiving exactly what they need in that moment for their own good. Fair does not mean the same – it means having equal value. We become angry in part because we mistakenly assign random values to events and then compare what each of us has.
One of our greatest challenges lies in realizing that we are not meant to be treated alike but that the Universe, in all of its infinite wisdom, always provides exactly what we are meant to have for our higher good and that each experience has equal value.
What then is the solution to avoiding the bitterness and resentment assigned to the belief that life should be fair?
1. Remember that if life were perfectly balanced we would learn nothing: patience, appreciation, determination, forgiveness, and much more.
2. Celebrate the successes of others, extend compassion for their losses regardless of where you are in life, knowing that at the precise moment it is needed each will receive what they are intended to have.
3. Keep in mind that every single experience, no matter how insignificant, no matter how painful or frightening plays a unique role in fulfilling our Divine Destiny – which is always to bring us closer to God.
4. Don’t compare or keep score. One never fully realizes the challenges others are struggling with. Focus only on addressing and learning from your own. Failure to do so leads to self-pity, victimization, misery, and suffering.
5. Trust that God’s love for you always directs you to your highest good. Be at peace with your life. You are in good hands, the best hands, with God.
Life may not appear to be fair but it is always unbiased. Each of us is given exactly what we need to assist us in our spiritual growth and to bring us into a more intimate relationship with our Lord. Sounds pretty just to me.
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