One of the hallmarks of losing your innocence is realizing that life isn’t fair. Most of us, anyway, begin life with teachings extolling the virtue of fairness. We learn to share our toys with others, to take turns, to “play fair,” and to “fight fair.” At some point, though, we begin complaining that such-and-such isn’t fair, that so-and-so isn’t being fair, that this-or-that should be fair, and those protests are met with responses that encircle one of life’s hard truths: that life, actually, isn’t fair.
It’s May, and for those who have school-aged children, you’ll know what I mean when I say that our family knows this time of year better as Mayhem. Just yesterday, one of my kids came home from school in a huff because her best friend, for whom she edited an essay, scored higher than she did. “I’m the better writer,” she argued. My response: “Rest in the fact that you did a good deed by helping her achieve a higher grade.” And then, post-eye-roll, I followed with, “Some things in life cannot be explained.” In other words, accept it and move on.
Sound guidance? A weary mom’s attempt to shut down what could be a vortex of negative mindset when two final exams loom that must be studied for? Maybe a bit of both.
At one point or another, all of us victimize being treated unfairly. It’s a way of self-soothing, I think. But if we don’t have a healthy enough mindset to shut down those thoughts and move on, we may become accustomed to identifying ourselves as a victim, feeling forever shortchanged. I know because I’ve been there.
If I had a dollar for every reason I could list that I feel I’ve been done wrong, I could retire right now. I’m not exaggerating. And if I let myself, I can allow myself to go to dark places where life’s stormy seas seem impassable and hope of better days is chalked up as a pipe dream. Major depressive disorder (what we commonly call clinical depression) runs hard and fast in my family. I’ve had several episodes since I was 25 years old, all brought on by traumatic stress. Depression is one of the demons I continue to battle to stay centered.
Not too long ago, God brought this phrase to my mind: Shortchanged or short on change? It wasn’t a message I wanted to hear. It certainly wasn’t something I wanted to take to heart. I was in the early doldrums of a coming depressive episode… already in the mental quicksand of negative thought patterns, catastrophic thinking, and withdrawal into the fortress I’ve built over time to block out the rest of the world.
Alas, God is stronger than me (newsflash) and relentless about reeling me back in, despite my efforts of evasion, if even a sliver of an opening in my heart is present. Despite my desire to ignore it, Shortchanged or short on change? burrowed into me like a seed determined to sprout. Conviction is a powerful guidepost. Our free will allows us to ignore or accept it. This time, I’ve chosen to accept it.
All too often, I do fall short on change. My will weakens with the compounding effect of life’s challenges, which, for me, are many. It’s an extraordinary effort for me to fight the part of me that wants to give up and choose to walk the also-difficult-but-much-more-rewarding path of healing. Both roads travel uphill, but only one leads to the mountaintop, where I long to be.
Years ago, I heard someone say, “Work as if it’s up to you. Pray as if it’s up to God.” That’s the best piece of advice I think I’ve ever received, and so I share it here, with you. Miracles happen every day. Small, large, seen, unseen. If I told you that there’s a fast track to maximizing the opportunity for God to move miraculously in your life, would you believe it? I am speaking truth to all of us today in this message: Co-laboring with our Creator, the One who possesses every power to make every impossibility possible, is the way to the life we are called to live. Aligning our energy and efforts with trust in God’s faithfulness, nothing is off-limits to us. Nothing.