I grew up hearing the phrase “life isn’t fair.” I heard it when I didn’t get the shoes I wanted or didn’t get to go to the sleepover I wanted to go to. I learned the truth to the statement as life threw disappointments my way, but it seems as though this phrase has taken on a completely new meaning to me lately.
Some of my most relaxing days here take place on a balcony, where I string beads together, listen to the hums of village life, feel whatever breeze the day has to offer and take my mind off everything as my hands put together jewelry. May seem strange that I say working is relaxing but it’s nice not to talk or think about much for a few hours out of the day. But, somehow life always interrupts me. Just last week, I had a total of six random strangers find me in my relaxing place. A group of three women told me their stories of hunger and desperation. A pregnant woman stopped by looking for baby supplies. Another set of women came up to the balcony, looking for work.
I’ve come up with some go to Creole phrases: “Mwen pa gen anyen kounye a” (I have nothing right now) “Men, m’ap sonje ou le mwen genyen” (But, I will remember you when I do have something) And they respond, “Ba bliye mwen” (Don’t forget me)
Life isn’t fair.
I see the look in their eyes and they want to work. They’re not lazy; they want to take care of their children. They’re trapped in the mess we call “poverty” and I see it sucking the life out of them. This phrase brings on new meaning as these people are clinging on to whatever small opportunities life will hand them, not just being upset if they didn’t get the right pair of shoes. This phrase’s meaning goes from something so shallow and materialistic so something so much deeper for me.
As they come looking to me for work, a part of me wants to hand over my jewelry making tools and teach them, give them my job. Give them some type of opportunity. I think of all the opportunities I had growing up. In high school, I worked at our local drive-thru flipping burgers and making ice cream cones. In college, I served pizza as a waitress and could make over $100 in tips on a Friday night. My senior year of college, the Lord opened doorways for me to become the manager of a ViBella center and I’m blessed by this job in so many ways. Oh yeah, on top of these not-so flattering jobs, I graduated from high school and had the opportunity to choose whichever college I wanted to go to. I always had access to clean water, a refrigerator full of food and a bed to sleep on.
I had always taken my days at the drive-thru for granted, but these mothers and fathers are searching and desperate for a job. They’re grateful for jobs that pay $5.00 a day and I was disappointed when people didn’t tip well. They’re willing to do anything to put their children through school and put food on the table.
It’s not fair that the biggest difference between the opportunities I had in my life and they don’t have in theirs is that I was born there and there were born here. Because they were born here, from day one of their lives, they’ll be trapped in all the issues poverty has to offer: no jobs, no healthcare, limited access to clean water, limited electricity, limited educational opportunities, corrupt governments and the list goes on and on… And, I realize our government has issues all of their own and people struggle to get by in the land of the free, but the issues of extreme poverty are just on a level all of their own.
And, life just isn’t only unfair these days but so bipolar, too. A month ago I celebrated and had one of the best days of my life as I married Webert. Three weeks later, I attended a funeral for a sweet 16-year-old girl who died from an asthma attack. It was a death that shouldn’t have happened if only appropriate treatment had been accessible. Half the people at the funeral had danced and celebrated with me at my wedding and the brother of the girl who passed was one of the groomsmen. Judeline, who lost her 13-month-old baby to pneumonia this past December, cried at our morning devotional the other day because she misses Rosie. Later that day, we sang and danced together on the balcony.
I get frustrated by so many small things and struggle with finding contentment, yet I have such a beautiful family and spend most of my afternoons laughing and playing with my kids.
It’s hard to figure it all out. Some days I’m not even quite sure what exactly I’m even trying to figure out. Maybe it’s this thing we call life, but who knows. It’s so full of unfairness, uncertainty and heartbreak. But, then the end of the day comes and sun’s rays strike through the clouds as if God is screaming only at me reminding me of his miracles, mercy and grace. I allow myself to breathe deeper, laugh harder and dance a little more ridiculously as my kids egg me on.
I find hope in his promises. And that statement sounds nice, since that’s what we are supposed to find to find hope in as his disciples. But, I don’t want the statement to sound cliché. I want to figure out why I believe in that statement so much.
I think what I’m figuring out the most in life’s unfairness is that it’s okay to not have it all together. It’s okay to make mistakes, not have all the answers, have bad hair days, and feel stressed out. We have to realize that life is going to knock us down, push us out of our comfort zones and make us feel like giving up. I’ve felt all of these things. I’ve wanted to throw in the rag and call it quits, but God somehow finds his ways through the clouds and the sunrays stab my discontented heart.
His beauty reminds me of his promises. His justice. His goodness. So yeah, life may be unfair, it may be bipolar and I’m a far way from figuring it all out. But, at the end of the day it’s about realizing that life is still good. So very good.
“God is always good and I am always loved” – Ann Voskamp