When I was a little girl, I threw epic temper tantrums. A tantrum could go on so long that I would lose my voice the next day. I would cry so hard, I could barely breathe and would then hyperventilate. What I can recall of the reasons for the tantrums was being angry and upset over something seeming highly unfair, but nothing more particular than that. As the third of six children, much in my life seemed unfair, even with my parents’ attempts to equitably distribute privileges and things. One of the refrains from my parents in response to my tantrums and lamentations was, “who told you life was fair? Life isn’t fair.” That reply only seemed to inflame my fury to greater volumes.
As I’ve matured, I no longer throw the tantrums I did as a child. I will admit to throwing internal or mental tantrums though. Instead of throwing myself on the floor kicking and screaming, I will usually throw myself into some physical activity like cleaning or running. I’ve never been able to stop the tears from flowing in this state of mind though.
My social media recently popped up a memory from a post from 5 years ago in which I had posted this quote from Dale G. Renlund:
“The sacrament truly helps us know our Savior. It also reminds us of His innocent suffering. If life were truly fair, you and I would never be resurrected; you and I would never be able to stand clean before God. In this respect, I am grateful that life is not fair.
At the same time, I can emphatically state that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, ultimately, in the eternal scheme of things, there will be no unfairness. ‘All that is unfair about life can be made right.’ Our present circumstances may not change, but through God’s compassion, kindness, and love, we will all receive more than we deserve, more than we can ever earn, and more than we can ever hope for. We are promised that ‘God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.'”Elder Dale G. Renlund
As I read the quote and my post explaining why I had posted it, I remembered that I had been really upset about something seemingly unfair to me. I remembered being angry and going to the temple looking for peace to no avail. I remembered going home and crying more about it in prayer to Heavenly Father. I remembered clearly that sense of unfairness I felt, but it took me a while to remember what occurred to actually elicit that reaction. It doesn’t seem so significant or even all that unfair as I look back through the lens of five years. I wouldn’t be so upset now in the same circumstance.
As I said, I couldn’t find any peace or abatement of my sense of unfairness through my normal means, so I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, which was the Sabbath, my first thought was, “you need to read the last talk from the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference.” I didn’t remember who gave the talk or what it was about but I pulled it up, not sure what to expect. While my Heavenly Father assuredly heard my crying and mental tantrum the day before, like any good parent, He knew I would be more apt to receive this gentle chastening and lesson of His perspective on unfairness once I was rested and less agitated.
My own Heavenly Parent was teaching me the same lesson my parents had tried to teach me. Life is not fair. God’s own existence is often questioned because of our experience and observation of this. I’ve often had to explain this to my own daughter. With divorced parents, life often seems particularly unfair to her kind and loving heart and not wanting either of her parents to miss her. I’ve had to teach her that because her dad and I made the choice to divorce, she is not guilty of doing anything wrong when she has to choose who she’ll spend time with. We gave her an unfair choice and her dad and I are responsible for any loneliness or sadness we feel when she’s with the other, not her.
When I only view life through the lens of “right now,” it is often perceived as unfair. When I view my life through the “right now” lens and compare what others have that I don’t, it feels unfair. When I view my life through the lens of Jesus Christ and His atoning gifts, it feels unfair that He has blessed me with more than I deserve, given me more than I have given Him, and continually forgives and teaches me even after my tantrums over unfairness.
I know that I will continue to experience unfairness in my life. What I know about the unfairness I have experienced is that my loving Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ can transform me to better endure it and heal from it. I’ve become more sensitive and aware of not treating others unfairly. As we have the promise and hope of all our tears being wiped away, so can the pain and grief that accompanies unfairness be wiped away through redemptive experiences and lessons from God.