Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life is fair

A year ago today...we got a brand new Maverick gas station at the end of our street.  It's the only gas station we frequent now and by frequent, I mean, we are there every day!  We are gas station junkies...what can I say.

Anyhow, there was always one lady that seemed like she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and she kind of showed it with a permanent scowl on her face.  No matter how friendly any one of us tried to be, she didn't care to smile.  She was actually kind of frightening! And grumpy.

Shelbie always complained about this lady and her attitude but one day, Shelbie decided to just try to ask her a question and get to know her better because maybe...she had a good reason for being a grouch.  So that is exactly what she did.

Long story short...We have become good friends, in fact, we even put her on the Christmas list last year and you would have thought we had given her a cruise to the Bahamas!

Early this year, when Shelbie got sick, this lady noticed that Shelbie wasn't going in anymore.  On one trip that I made, the lady said, "Are you Shelbie's mom?"

"Yes,  why?" I asked.
"She hasn't been in for a couple of weeks and I just wondered if maybe she moved."
"No, she's been sick and in the hospital.  She had a small surgery that developed an infection."
"Oh.  Is it serious?"
"Don't worry, she will be back in no time.  I will tell her you asked about her."
"Well, like what kind of surgery.  She is just so sweet, I'm a little worried."

That ended up being a 20 minute conversation about what was really going on.  The lady was so moved by the situation.  Now we are all good friends and in the moments while a transaction is made, we catch little glimpses into each other's life.  I no longer see a grumpy, grouchy lady.  I see a friend.

Two weeks ago, I was asking her how things were going and she said, "I was in the ER two nights ago.  My blood pressure was so high and I was so sick!"  She went on to say that the doctor told her she needed to eliminate some stress in her life.  I was thinking her stress was maybe the job, long hours, but no, it was her mother in law.  At first, I thought that was a crazy thing to be stressed about.  She told me that she was going to take 8 days off to recuperate and figure out what to do.

I wished her my best and walked out to my car.  So many things ran through my head.  First of all, this was truly a serious situation to her.  To me, it wasn't at all.  I would spend maybe 2 or 3 days stewing and then let it go.  I also noticed that she never once apologized to me for  her seemingly trivial matter that was creating unhealthy stress for her.  She treated her problem as serious and difficult as I treat mine.

This was an earth shattering moment for me.  I rarely speak to people who don't feel obligated to discount their own troubles.  They say things like, "Well, I know I shouldn't be complaining to you about this."

I hate that sentence more than anything!  It makes me feel alienated and isolated and unapproachable.  Not only that, it makes themselves feel weak and less than...

For 8 days, I had intensely deep thoughts about this interaction.  She just got back to work and I asked her how the break was.  For 15 min, she shared her life with me.  She shared desperate moments she had with her mother in law and was honest and unapologetic that she was struggling so much and I had an awakening as I shared her burden.

Our stories are different, very different but the battle fatigue is the same and has taken a similar toll on each of us.  I still, when I think of her problems, don't see that they are an issue but that is because they wouldn't be a trial to me.  That's when I realized for the first time ever how it is that life is totally and completely fair.

I have always believed that...but couldn't  really express how my very sick children is fair compared to someone else's quarrel with a mother in law.  The circumstances don't seem fair at all when looking at the face value of both situations, yet if you look closely, the playing field is level and all is fair in terms of Godly work.

We have been blessed with so much! Not much at all in the standards of the world and physical things but spiritually, we are rich. Each little trial I have faced from a young child to now, built my arsenal of faith; a little bit here, a little bit there.  In all that little by little we have grown and progressed so much.  With each trial we became a bit stronger.  The point to life is that we are always growing and stretching more and more.  That happens in trial and tribulation.  It  just so happens that it takes so much more to test us than it use to.

Where much is given, much is required.  The spiritual resources I have built up over time, far exceed my gas station friend's spiritual resources.  Her testing looks much easier than mine yet she is being tested to the very same, exhausting degree because she has less experience to draw from.

I don't know what this woman's spiritual beliefs are but I know they are quite different from mine yet, I feel such a connection to her.  I love that she felt like she could be honest with me and didn't apologize for her difficulties.  I love that was brave and vulnerable and didn't have to pretend to be doing better than she was.  There is so much I can learn from her.

This realization of how life is fair, was a monumental moment.  I have struggled to understand this concept for years.  It doesn't make these things we face any easier but the understanding helps.  There is still much I don't understand about why the testing hasn't let up in 11 straight months and I can see no sign of it letting up any time soon.  It doesn't make much sense to me but I have to continue to believe that it makes sense to God. I will certainly be watching for the day when I can look back on this year and see why it had to be this way.

I just wish I could convince my kids that things will get better soon enough.  It's one thing for me to feel the effects of never ending refining in the fire of tribulation, but it's another thing to see the toll this is taking on my kids who just really need a break.  I am really not sure how many more cliches and happy, hopeful memes I can throw at them in an effort to bind their little broken hearts.


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