One of the predominant complaints I hear from my clients is “This isn’t fair!” Referring to an incident where they or someone else has suffered a perceived injustice, they feel angered that things were not equitable. There is a universal misconception that if you play by the rules you will be treated justly. If you show up at work on time each day and put in a productive eight hours, you’ll receive your yearly raise and Christmas bonus. If you are a loyal and faithful spouse your partner will appreciate you and yours will be a fairytale marriage. When the raise is not forthcoming or your spouse decides to leave you for someone else or when your best friend reveals a secret they vowed to take with them to their grave, the natural reaction is feelings of betrayal and rage.
Moving beyond our personal experiences, we also feel a sense of outrage when a crime is committed and the felon receives the minimum sentence or worse, none at all. We grieve the loss of a mother whose children were killed in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver. Each of us could site dozens of incidences where we have experienced betrayal, injustice or loss on a personal or broader level. It is easy to become disheartened and angered at the unfairness life presents us with on a daily basis. Yet each has logical reason for occurring and there are methods to move beyond the anger and hurt.
The key in not being held hostage to each of these experiences is to understand their purpose and value in our lives. Readjusting our expectations of others and of life in general helps alleviate the shock and frustration when betrayal, unfairness, and/or loss enters our lives. Keep in mind the following:
1. Understand that others are not here to live up to our expectations of who/what we want them to be. Some are not trustworthy due to deep rooted personal issues. Others may feel justified in breaking a promise even though we may not share their point of view. Their position is a valid to them as ours is to us. This may not be an issue of right or wrong and we must be careful not to make it one.
2. We need to abandoned the notion that life is fair. There is no real justice in this life simply because humans are imperfect, have different opinions, and make mistakes. Additionally, we each have our own ideas of what fairness is. I may think it’s perfectly reasonable that if I do a favor for you, you will reciprocate. However, you may not be in a position to do so or you may not have asked for my help initially and therefore feel you don’t owe me anything. Even in the case where we feel justice has been served, it is really retribution for a committed offense that we are seeking. Retribution does not undo the wrong-doing. It simply brings some satisfaction that the other party had to “pay the price”.
3. Loss is an inevitable part of life. Nothing was meant to last forever, in part, because God does not want us to become attached to anything or anyone. Loss is laden with fear as we relinquish control in a situation. The fear of the unknown – not knowing what will come next or how it will impact me and if I will be ok in my new circumstances. But loss is necessary for growth. We must be willing to let go, to give up, to be free of what is no longer a necessary part of our lives. Even in our relationships – none was meant to last forever. By letting go of the fear associated with loss, we open ourselves up to being able to fully enjoy what we currently have rather than worry about when we will lose it/them. God wants us to only cling to Him and in doing so, in having faith and knowing that all I ever need is already and always present to me, I need no longer fear loss.
Remember that betrayal, injustice, and loss are all a vital part of our life’s journey, necessary for our personal growth, and most noticeably, essential for our spiritual development. Have faith, trust in God. All is exactly as it is meant to be.