It’s not fair! {and other ways we miss the point}

Yesterday, I gave up my sweet dog to a new home because I’m raising a daughter who needs constant supervision. A dog was too much, even if she WAS the only mammal in my house who didn’t require emotional work.

But she wasn’t just a dog. She was my dog.

Last night, when I wanted to relax on the couch with a book and my too-big-t0-snuggle Labrador curled up on top of next to me and she wasn’t there, you know what I was thinking?

Something very mature and understanding and life coach-y, of course.

NO WAY! I was crying big, fat, “it’s not fair, God!” tears.

We’ve all been there—walking that fine line between fairness and love. Wanting to throw a tantrum because loving someone or doing what we love requires sacrifice (and probably forgiveness, too).

Which is why today’s post from my new friend and fellow God-sized dreamer, Amy Corley, has perfect timing. May her thoughts encourage you in what seems unfair in life today.

Fairness vs. Love {Part 1}

by Amy Corley

“It’s not fair!” whined my 12-year old son, Stephen, lamenting the lack of some electronic gadget in his life, which apparently everyone else at school possesses.

My initial reaction? Respond with the usual: 1) You’re not them. 2) We’re not their family. 3) Just because someone else has or does something doesn’t mean you have to, too.

After listening carefully, though, I responded differently this time:

“Son, I am not interested in fairness.  I am interested in loving you well.  And if the best way to love you well in this situation looks “unfair” to you, so be it.”

He gave me a look that said fairness sounded much better to him at that moment.

As parents, we often see a bigger picture than our children do.  They want something now; we know the value of waiting for something better down the road.  They want unlimited freedom; we know the value of freedom tempered with wisdom and discretion.  From my son’s perspective, not having something that he wants which others already have is unfair.  My desire as a parent is to make the best decision I can based on wisdom, love, hoping to do the best thing for my son’s growth and development into a mature adult.

Parenting moments like these drive me to prayer, seeking wisdom and understanding beyond my own.  In that quiet place, I realized recently how grateful I am that God does not deal with me “fairly.”  Because fair is that the wages of sin is death, and I am a sinner.  I deserve to die.

But oh, the marvelous love of God!!  He loves me enough to be “unfair,” giving to me through his outrageous generosity: the gift of faith; forgiveness, total and complete; His Spirit dwelling within me; and sanctification, that daily work He does in me so that I resemble Jesus more and more.

What God has allowed into my life for refining and growth often looks different than what a friend is asked to walk through in her own life.  If I start to focus too much on those differences my prayers quickly resemble the voice of my 12-year old as I whine to God about what is fair, asking Him why our family has had to walk down the road of grief and loss, why their adoption has gone so quickly, or why the job that seemed like such a sure thing didn’t work out in the end.

Then He reminds me, just like I did my son, in His kind and gracious way with love filling His eyes right up,

“I am not interested in fairness, Dear One, but I am interested in loving you well.  Will you trust me to do that?”

As a parent, I pray that my children will trust me to love them well, even if sometimes that looks downright unfair.

What about you? What are your thoughts about fairness and authentic love in parenting?  How does meditating on the love of God for you help you as you seek to love your children well?


Amy Corley headshotAmy Corley is a wife to her Professor and mom to three children, two of whom she home schools. She blogs at Gift After Gift, where she writes as a way to grow her faith in Jesus and to make sense of this crazy, full of beauty life He has given her. (She’s also newly on Twitter — so stop by and welcome her!)

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  1. Kelli Wommack says

    Laurie and Amy… I love this! Laurie – totally understant the crying and whining “unfair!” And Amy – thanks for reminding me that loving me well doesn’t always mean fairness. And I am thankful for that. God sees the big picture and He knows the plan. I am constantly learning to trust Him!

  2. Mothering From Scratch says

    {Melinda} You’re so right — life is not fair! I’ve been battling with God about this a bit lately. I know that anything He gives me is more than I deserve and yet I feel cheated when certain things don’t happen on my timetable. Still, I think He understands our human hearts. He remembers we are dust.

    Laurie, how’s it going with your sweet girl? Will continue to pray for you.

    • says

      I hear you, Melinda. I think the funniest part about it, for me, is that what I think isn’t fair one day will seem fair the next for some other situation. We are but dust indeed! And. . . thank you for asking about her. It’s been a very intense first month transitioning home. I long for peace and the kind of joy people say comes with family – realizing there is just precious little of that when raising hurt kids and I’m starting to notice the absence of this thing we haven’t had (if that makes any sense). It’s driving me to pray, face on the floor, heart on my sleeve before Him, which I think is right where He wants me. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with this unfair idea lately too. It’s such an emotional drain! Praying for eyes for us both to see beyond this moment, this situation. Father, we need your eyes for these moments!!

  3. Kelly says

    Oh Laurie, so sorry about your fur-kid. I would feel exactly the same way as you – my pup is MY pup. It hurts sometimes to be loved well! Hugs to you my friend…

    • says

      Thanks, Kelly. It still stings a little to come downstairs at night after putting kids in bed and NOT hear her go nuts in her crate because she missed me. It’s too darned quiet around here without her funny little noises or how she’d snore with her head in my lap as I wrote. But she does have a great new family. And for that, I’m so incredibly thankful!!!

  4. says

    Awesome words for this new Mama… Thank you Amy (and Laurie.) This post not only made me think AND gave me goosebumps, but it encouraged my heart! Here’s to a journey of loving my little 3 wk old daughter well… Starting… NOW!

    • says

      Right?? Amy really captured it simply and powerfully. Jesus DID say we need to have faith like a child to enter the Kingdom. So I suppose we could all do with refreshers on the lessons we learned as kids. . . or the ones we still haven’t learned! 🙂