You are currently viewing Life Is Not Fair, Get Over It

Life Is Not Fair, Get Over It

Well, that’s a bit harsh.

Fr Richard Rohr

But doesn’t it sound like something your grandpa would say?  I know mine would have.  Although he’da said it in his soft sweet voice, which tampers a bit the clanging sound that goes right to the gut.

But grandpas tend to have learned a thing or two, and know that the truth is life is not fair.

As much as we wish it would be.

Perhaps wish isn’t a strong enough word.

Not matter how far we’ve come, the bags of coal deposited on our doorsteps still cause us to search for any way out from under them.  

By any means.

We first deal with the shock of what happened, then complain, then try and undo whatever dastardly deed done to us.  If that doesn’t work, we scheme.

We put untold amounts of energy into not accepting whatever the thing is we didn’t ask for in the first place.

Isn’t it all exhausting?

Why yes, it is.

But that stubborn ego doesn’t go down to defeat without a fight.  That’s its nature.

Railing about whatever event or person or life in general that did us wrong is the ego’s first line of defense.

Funny thing about all that though, if you don’t learn the skills of acceptance and letting go, all the running in circles to control every event in your life will wear you to the bone.

Especially as you get older, when energy wanes a bit.

And that’s when so many folks finally go into therapy of some sort to deal with their “issues,” which stem so often from how life is not always fair.

My dear friend Suzanne is married to an Episcopal priest.  And while that comes with tireless service, there are some perks involved 🙂

Recently her husband helped host a bishops’ conference in their city, and one of the main teachers was Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Richard Rohr.

Suzanne had sent me his tapes long ago, and he just speaks to my soul.  His work centers on contemplation and compassion, and as a teacher he is one of the best.

Anyway, Suzanne was invited to hear his talk.

And among the litany of wisdom he discussed was something that took my breath away.

“What is the opposite of faith?” he asked.  “We immediately think of that as doubt, no?”

I’m sure everyone nodded here.

“The opposite of faith is not doubt.  It’s control.”

Oh, my.

I’d never thought of it that way, had you?

We say we trust in the God of our understanding, no?  We say the words.  We may even think we believe them.

And then we go right back to our “real lives” and tell God we know she’s busy and we’ll handle all this 🙂

But what a mature person, with enormous faith, it takes to get quiet, contemplate, listen to the soft voice of the divine, make a plan based on that, do our part, and then let go of the outcome . . .

Wouldn’t you just rather tell people what to do and have them do it to your satisfaction?  That’s so much easier!

But when we focus on how to become happy in life—and that’s what we all want, no?—we come to realize that Fr. Rohr hit the proverbial nail smack on its head.

If we truly had faith, we’d abdicate that blessed control.

Since hearing that, it’s become my litmus test of faith.  When I say I believe something, say I’ve given it to God, say I’m doing my part and the divine will take care of the rest, I then look clearly and sharply at the situation to see where I’m still trying to control things.

And then turn that over as well.

Simple concept.  Although of course simple rarely means easy!

I recently had quite a good test of this.  It’s something I wish I didn’t have to confess . . .

I had an ooops breeding.  First time ever—in 30 years.  And although it wasn’t a disaster—it was a repeat of last spring’s litter, and I love what I kept out of it, Ms. Murphey Brown—oh, dear, was this not in the plan.  For a thousand reasons. The way I do puppies is quite time consuming . . .  Time I just didn’t have.

But after getting over the initial shock, I worked to let it go.  To be okay with whatever happened.  To non-resist, which has been one of the tools I’ve had to work on for decades to effectively practice.  For a good bit of my life, I would have much rather pushed the river uphill than learned how to float.

In short, I knew I had to be okay with whatever happened—a litter of 13 or no pups at all or anything in between.

And I could hear Fr. Rohr’s soft voice in my head . . .

Long story short, Siren is not pregnant.  We dodged that bullet!  And even though I was prepared for puppies and truly okay with it, man, is this a relief!  🙂

Ah, control.  Even when we think we have it, life has a way of laughing in our faces with events that show us how comical we are.

The old saying holds true: When you want to give the gods a laugh, tell them your plans . . .

But how freeing it is to let go.  How much energy surges through the veins.  Energy that can then be used for effective pursuits.

As Fr. Rohr says, “Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Beth Niebuhr

    Interesting concept that I hadn’t heard before – that the opposite of faith is control. I guess that’s right. It’s a bit like having faith that you would change being able to post a comment on your posts only if we solved the puzzle in the acceptable way. I see that you have made a welcome substitution. HaHa. I couldn’t resist using that as an example, sorry! And thanks. PS It doesn’t want me to comment this time either. Says I exceeded the time limit. Twice!

    1. Susan Malone

      That’s actually a great example, Beth! Because no one is more frustrated about this than I am. I swear. Back to the drawing board!

  2. Sabrina Quairoli

    What a great post! I do believe that control is the opposite of faith. When I pray and give over to God, it allows me to focus on the now not the worry or fear. It helps me stay with the baby steps. This is such a lovely reminder to just let go.

    1. Susan Malone

      Isn’t that the truth, Sabrina–letting go let’s us focus on the now. Which is where all life is lived. Great point!

  3. Beverley Golden

    I remember attending a weekend workshop of The Sedona Method and what stuck with me, was the idea that each of us humans does most of what we do either for control or for acceptance. If we think about the lower ego which is what motivates much of how we are in our lives, this will probably resonate. I love this idea of faith or control. If we truly “trust”, we would surrender control in a deep sense of knowing. The world we live in makes this challenging indeed. Fairness has always been a BIG one for me. Both my Aquarius sun and my Libra rising seem to strive for fairness at all costs. I have to keep being reminded that life just might not be fair. Tough one for me. Thanks for the lovely story and food for thought, Susan!

    1. Susan Malone

      Control and acceptance–the evil twins of the ego. And doesn’t this worldly journey make dealing with that difficult, Beverley!
      And you know, you’re sense of fairness shines through 🙂

  4. Karen

    Faith is so much a part of my life and the older I get the more I realize how I am not in control and with that I find it easier and easier to turn it over to God. Let go and let God.

    1. Susan Malone

      Isn’t it funny how we realize, the older we get, how little we can control events anyway, Karen. Remembering that helps me too!

  5. Roslyn Tanner Evans

    Daily I know life is not fair & I’ve learned I have no control over it. It just is. Comes with aged wisdom and doing 18 years of transformative work. Forget all the prior years of therapy and exploring many paths. Lovely post- food for thought.

    1. Susan Malone

      It’s the transformation work that makes all the difference, no, Roz? I don’t think age itself gets us there, but working to dig out our issues and make peace with ourselves. But isn’t that journey fraught with demons 🙂

  6. Jessica

    you make some interesting point. For sure something to think about.

  7. Renee

    SUCH a great post! I am sharing with my teens. I think they will love and hate me for it haha.

    1. Susan Malone

      Isn’t that what teens do, Renee? Comes with the territory!

  8. Delia

    To be honest, I’ve always so much disliked someone telling me “life isn’t fair”. From an young age, I used to hear it around me and never quite understood the meaning. Life just is, with some good and some bad, again, by some definitions we learned to accept.

    Yes, I still have moments when I try to control and have my way but it usually happens if I’m tired or overwhelmed. I immediately think about it and step back, calm down, and let it go. So liberating, I agree.

    1. Susan Malone

      My ego surely snakes in when I’m tired or overwhelmed too. How much easier it is then to slip into wanting to “fix” things! Great points, Delia.

  9. Julie Syl Kalungi

    Lol Isnt it? Life is truly VEEERY FAIR. I dont know about you huni but My Life has delivered to me only what I ASKED IT TO. By my thoughts and the word of my lips…We create our own circumstances whether we believe it or not. We have been created with that power to speak a word and change what we see. In fact I did a Scope about it just two days ago.

    Funny how things align. A friend was crying about how life is not fair to her and that I am lucky…! I responded that I create my own luck and that she too could. You should have seen the look on her face..affronted doesn’t half describe it.

    She proceeded to have a rant about how mean I was being, that do I honestly believe she has brought her dire situation into her life..I simply looked her strait in the eye and refused the invitation to her pity party!

    Yes Life is to fair to those WHO BELIEVE SO! My Two pence 🙂

    1. Susan Malone

      That’s the actual next step, isn’t it, Julie! Once we accept this life for what it actually is, how different our worlds look. And then on to the stage of the journey where we create our own realities. We always have been, of course, exactly as you say.
      It’s a difficult concept to grasp as well, especially to those still in the ego’s grasp of blaming. I bet you got an earful!
      Great insights 🙂

  10. Deb Nelson

    Yes, the headline’s a bit harsh. And, yes, it grabbed my attention. Thought-provoking post here of the opposite of faith, particularly when combined with the notion that life isn’t fair. Learning from those elements in life that we might not have chosen often takes us down fascinating paths.

    1. Susan Malone

      So true, Deb! And isn’t that what this life is about–always learning. Love your thoughts!

  11. Stephanie

    I love the quote from Father Rohr. We DO think we’re so in control – but we’re not always able to dictate the circumstances happening around us. We certainly do have the pleasure of controlling our own attitudes though 🙂

    1. Susan Malone

      And it’s all about our attitudes, isn’t it, Stephanie! I love Fr. Rohr’s quote too 🙂

  12. Kristen Wilson

    Ohhhhhh yes, I go through that ‘life isn’t fair’ bit all too often, but I never say it outloud because well… that’s life and well, it just isn’t fair. And the control thing is my vice… I don’t have to control everything but I get irritated when I do everything right or everything the way ‘I’m supposed to’ and it still doesn’t work… like wait… I did what I was told or what it said and it doesn’t work… ugh. I need to get over it faster… but as of now, I still have my process, like you mentioned… I’m getting better tho. lol

    1. Susan Malone

      Control is such a beast, Kristen. But progress is all that matters. You go, girl!

  13. Colleen M. Story

    Nice post, Susan. It’s always such a relief to let go of the efforts to control—I don’t know why I don’t do it more often! (ha)

    1. Susan Malone

      Me too, Colleen! I seem to have to be reminded 🙂

Leave a Reply