It’s not fair. Life is just not fair.
Every child has learned that lesson. We all have received the smaller half of the cookie, had a friend who could do something we weren’t allowed, or been blamed for something we had no part in. Life, indeed, is not fair.
But, what if you got the bigger half of the cookie? What if you were the friend who could do what the others could not? What if you were in the position of finger pointing? (And hopefully you’re honest…)
How come, when life is outrageously favorable, we don’t admit the injustice of our undeserved advantage?
Maybe, when life is unfair and good, we are just too happy to realize it. Maybe the moments when we see ourselves on top, in the spotlight, or the “lucky” one, we are blinded by our bliss. Or maybe, we know it’s unfair, but we start racking up all the reasons we “earned” it through hard work, good character, karma, blah, blah, blah.
You guys. YOU GUYS. I recognize very heavily, to the point of utter tears, that my life is unfair. I don’t deserve one smidge of the good gifts God gives me. And I have no idea how to handle it.
Mom and Dad, you were supposed to tell me what to do when my cookie half was bigger! I’m not trained on how to think about my unfair life on the other side of unfairness!
God has provided us a house. No, I take that back. God has provided us with the most adorable, perfect cottage, tucked away in a woodsy area with a lush lawn, picturesque arched door, and not far away, a hiking trail around a lake with a beach! I’m not kidding you guys. I’m stinkin’ not kidding.
How am I supposed to handle this? Just tell me how?!
As I was driving to church yesterday praying, I started thanking God for my great husband. And guilt started to sink in a bit. I am madly in love with Bobby. I love him greatly, and he takes care of me better than I ever imagined a man could. Sometimes I love him so deeply, I wonder if he’s becoming an idol in my life. We have been married for 8 years and sometimes I still feel like I have a teenage crush on him! My heart bursts at the seams for that man! I do not deserve him. I did nothing to “earn” him. He is a pure gift from God.
Okay, enough of the mush. But I struggle with this. People always warn newlyweds that, “Marriage is hard. The honeymoon stage wears off eventually.” And I agree with that mostly… There have been hard times in our marriage. But for me, the honeymoon feelings pop up all the time! For me, marriage is amazing. I would choose “amazing” over the word “hard.”
I even debated writing any of this, because now I feel like a spoiled, ungrateful diva. “Life is too easy for me. Pfsh. It’s so easy that it’s hard!”
But I’m wrestling with this in my mind. And I know without a doubt, I have heard friend after friend not know how to handle seasons of comfort too. I was recently reflecting with a friend who is in a peaceful, content, happy time in her life, and she didn’t know exactly what to do or how to think. Some Christians would say, “Start bracing yourself! Start getting ready. You know a storm is coming soon!” I don’t know, but I don’t think God wants us to be fearful and frantic in our rest. I don’t think God gives us happy times in our life for the sole purpose to gird ourselves up for some terrible event that’s going to lash out on us later. I think—just maybe—God simply wants us to be grateful. I told that to my friend. I said, “Maybe, we just learn to be thankful?” We both looked at each other blankly. It sounded really nice. But we were both clueless.
People just don’t know how to be thankful. And I am one of them.
If you know Jesus, you know suffering very well. If you don’t know Jesus, you know suffering well. We all suffer. And those who identify with Christ, will be persecuted. Suffering is hard. It stands out in our lives. Preachers always apply their sermons to hardships. A hard job, marriage, parenting, money, relationships, etc. I get it. We all need counsel with difficulty. Pain is for real. We need to know what to do. I am by no means minimizing hardship. And I’m not saying my life has been breezy and free-sailing 24/7.
But when was the last time I heard a sermon, read an article, or heard someone counsel someone on the practice of gratitude and thanksgiving? When was “just be grateful” or “just enjoy it” the final application? When was the last time I heard someone explain the details, step-by-step, story-by-story, of a completely thankful, happy, and praise-giving heart toward Christ? When was the end: gratitude?
I’ve got it! You’re supposed to share your bigger half of the cookie! Is that the moral of the story? (I know my mom and dad are probably still lingering on my complaint of their parental guidance.) When life gives you more than you deserve, you share. And like I tell my kids, “Sharing will always make you happy.”
Anyone want half of a cottage? I’ll just cut it right down the middle. You can even have the side with the bathroom.
I have about one million words to describe my feelings in times of difficulty. I own pages and pages of journals with complaints. But right now, I own only two words to describe my feelings of dumbfounded, undeserved, happiness: THANK YOU. The past two nights as I have drifted off to sleep, I have prayed, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” Each thank you had a different nuance of gratitude. And as soon as I tried to express my “thank you” with different words, all that came out was just another “thank you.” I cannot express my gratitude fully yet. I need to start studying a dictionary for happy synonyms! I need to start learning the art of thanksgiving.
Anyone craving a turkey dinner, mashed potatoes, and a little Black Friday shopping?
I sure am. Anyone want to petition for a Sunday school or Bible study titled, “How to be grateful” or “How to enjoy the life God has given you” or “Just be happy in God”?
Dolly just woke up and is sitting on my lap. So, while I’m finishing writing, I’m letting her watch some home videos. The first video that came up was of her recent 3-year birthday party. Her Aunt Olivia and Uncle David gave her the poofiest, glitziest, sparkliest, pinkest, princess dress. You should see this girl. SHE knows how to be thankful. Squeals of girlish delight ooze out of my blonde little bouncer. She admires the rose brooch on the neck collar, endlessly strokes the sequences on her belly, irresistibly twirls around in enchanted thrill, and skips off in pure adoration to give her gift-givers a hug. She is enamored by the attention and love that was poured out to her in the form of princess play, and there is no suppressing her jubilee. She is not concerned about when she will have to take off her play dress, nor is she concerned about the other presents surrounding her feet. She is 100% invested in the pinkalicious dress that is draping her frame, and she does not hide her satisfaction and exuberance. Her moment of gratitude is her only concentration, and it’s as if her life is frozen in her moment of royal radiance. Not only does she portray gratitude in the video, but even today, as she watches it, is she still squealing on my lap!
Why do we ever out-grow such pure and innocent expressions of joy?
Leave it to Dolly to teach me about gratitude. Leave it to our children, right? To teach us.
God has blessed Bobby, the kids and me with a home. A home better, more beautiful, more enchanted than I ever dreamed we could possibly get. I guess it’s my turn, Dolly, to play royal radiance in our mini castle. I don’t deserve it. We don’t deserve it. We did absolutely nothing to earn it. I hardly even prayed for it! My friend this week gave me the most kind prayer. She prayed, “Lord, give Bobby and Sarah a house that fits their needs. And give them a house filling the needs they didn’t even know they needed!” (She was also the same one who prayed that we wouldn’t live under a bridge… what a doll!)
My point is, I am not self-made. I am not to be credited for these gifts God has given. The prayers of many have blessed me more than I can conceive. The generosity and fate of life’s events are purely unrelated to my own worth. And I’m left with complete awe and surprise. It’s too good to be true. It’s just too good. God is just too kind.
But is this not EXACTLY the Gospel? Every Christ-follower actually knows how to be perfectly thankful. We need no one to teach us joy in salvation. Because every Christian has received the most marvelous, true, undeserved gift of the universe: CHRIST. The gift of Jesus far exceeds any princess dress, any cozy cottage, or any marvelous material possession. Christians are all too familiar with receiving paralyzing goodness, unbounding grace, and limitless blessing. That is why the Gospel IS GOOD NEWS. It astounds us. It captivates us. It forces us to our knees in mysterious joy, unexplained favor, and unmerited life. And we get all of this in our Savior. Oh! Thank you Lord.
Just thank you.