Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Not Fair!

It's not fair. It's not fair that your child and mine were born with a chronic illness. It's not fair that, through no fault of their own, they have to deal with cystic fibrosis and all its attendant problems. It's not fair that so much of their days are consumed with simply staying alive. They didn't do anything to deserve this. They didn't put themselves at risk or make unwise decisions that would make CF a natural consequence of their behavior.

But then, life is not fair. That's an unfortunate fact we all must deal with at some point in our lives, at least if we're to avoid living out our days disappointed by our lack of constant bliss. Thankfully, we are not only plagued by disappointment but also surprised by joy. Life is a study in contrasts.

Our family is celebrating the news of a baby on the way. Vanessa, Brian, Brigid and Katrin expect to welcome a third baby in May. I am thrilled. Holly is thrilled.

At the same time, I wonder why one daughter enjoys the anticipation of new life while the other looks forward to more six more rounds of chemo in the hope of shrinking an inoperable brain tumor. This on top of her constant fight with CF. Vanessa requires more rest because of the tiny life growing inside her. Holly must rest, because the chemo drains her body of stamina and energy.

I am experiencing great joy for this new baby that is unmitigated by Holly's trials. Yet, I experience grief that Holly's life is, well, just plain hard. That's not to say it's devoid of happiness. She loves her husband and adores her daughter, dotes on her nieces and makes a point to find wonder in everyday life. If you read her Caring Bridge posts (, you will see how she celebrates life every day in spite of everything.

Life isn't fair in other ways. For instance, Holly and Vanessa, precious human beings and gifts from God, were entrusted to me to nurture. Me! I don't deserve them. I couldn't possibly have done anything to make me worthy of them.

It isn't fair that I have a safe place to live with a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and heating and air conditioning. It isn't fair that, flawed as it may be, I live in a country where I can worship as I please. It isn't fair that I can leave the house safely and without worrying over the soldiers clustered on every street corner.

Life is not fair. My family is simply a microcosm that demonstrates the truth evident around the world and in every life. The contrast of the joy between Vanessa's life and the struggle in Holly's is just a slice of real life taken from a moment in time in our family. Joy and pain, simple and complicated, happiness and sorrow.

An amazing observation I've made in the midst of our personal circumstances is that Holly rejoices when Vanessa rejoices, and Vanessa weeps when Holly weeps, which is exactly as God intended. What a lesson for me to learn to rejoice and weep with those who are not part of my family but with whom I am connected, for as John Donne expressed, "No man is an island."

As far as our own daily lives and the difficulties we encounter that make us wince and squirm, what's important is what we make of it. We have a choice. As my pastor, Chuck Swindoll points out:
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot c

hange the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes."