Dad used to come home worn from the day, and from working a job that wasn’t meant for him. His talent was often overshadowed by younger men who perhaps didn’t have the skill, but could talk a good game. “Life’s not fair,” he used to repeat, like a paper fortune hugged by sugar cookie halves. As I entered young adulthood, I brushed off failure and disappointment by repeating the mantra I had learned at the kitchen table.
As the year winds down, folks will poke holes in 365 days of events. Some of you are shaking your fists at God, the sky, or the first person who stands idly in your way. It’s all so unfair, this year needs to end.
I get it. It’s been a tough year for me as well. Much like you, I’ve been trying to grab onto my own piece of closure and have been reflecting on a pretty hellish period. My anxiety has been the worst it’s ever been. My family battled cancer, addiction, mental illness, mortality, estrangement and loss. When I look back, I can’t believe all this shit was crammed into a single year.
I suppose that’s the thing for which I’m most thankful. Is that I was able to keep moving without noticing the weight that was resting squarely on my shoulders.
I am not a particularly religious person, but I am so thankful for blessings that went undetected until I sat down to write this. Amidst the shitstorm, I also got to celebrate remission, recovery, treatment, reconnection, and life.
Most importantly, I was given the gift of grace more times than I deserved it. More times than was fair. There’s this lyric I love that sums it up perfectly for me:
“The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”
Like Dad said, life isn’t fair. While I hope life will someday afford equality, it will never be fair. But sometimes that’s the gift. There are plenty of times when we benefit from the cruelty of life’s challenges, and we are given chances that we often don’t deserve. There are times when we just need someone to give us a shot, whether it’s fair or just a random act of kindness.
It is so easy to blame this past year for all of our failures, our pain, and our losses. As we welcome a new, fresh year and search for closure, I am focusing on grace. On gifting it to others as it has been offered to me. To be patient, to give second chances, to let the chips land where they will. Because while every time I lose, it means someone else wins. Because every time I screw up, it provides an opportunity for renewed hope and blessings realized.
I am a known cynic, but I am quite in love with the idea of grace. Perhaps because I often don’t deserve it.
I don’t yet have children, but always thought it might be a good name for my first daughter. That is, until Dad stole the name for the cat he rescued. It all seems so unfair, but alas, that’s part of the beauty.