We're gathered around the teevee, watching Families of India. (I've mentioned this charming DVD series before, I believe.) I, of course, am hoping that my pampered North American children are noticing the, uh, simplicity of our narrators' lives.
But as the Indian family gathers on beds and floor to eat their meal, huddled around a small, static-ridden TV set of their own, what do I hear?
"No fair!" my youngest yelps, "They get to watch TV during dinner!"
OK, y'all. Do we even need to discuss how this perspective is bit ... skewed? Caddywompus, even?
That's right, honey. It IS no fair. No fair that simply by virtue of your birth, you live in a comfortable, air-conditioned home with a safe yard and access to a reasonable number of electronics. You have more clothes than you need. Cute ones, even. You take taekwondo lessons. You rarely eat the same dinner more than once or twice per month. You do a few chores, but mostly because your mother thinks it's good training, not because our family relies heavily on your contribution. Oh, and speaking of fair? You're alive, and you're fully functional, when you almost weren't ... and other kids aren't.
I know I sound a bit sardonic, but the truth is, she's just a five year old child expressing a view informed by five year old maturity. And in reality, am I not the same?
"No fair, Lord. My sister gets a brand new, gleaming, granite-surfaced kitchen remodel and I'm still stuck with my "vintage" appliances and ugly yellow formica countertops." Even though I have three lovely children and no cancer history.
"No fair, Lord. My husband's been applying for jobs, so he can actually be a Real Professor, for eighteen months now. He basically gets the sound of crickets chirping in response. Meanwhile, my friend's husband is turning down plum opportunities that validate how hard he's worked in graduate school." Even though he does have a job that pays the bills and allows us to stay in this city with the people we love.
"No fair, Lord. I'm feeling down about not qualifying for the mortgage we want so we can finally have the house we've been longing for ... and my friend calls to squeal about the brand new house they just bought in a great school district." (I borrowed that one from a friend, who understands that I totally sympathize with her melancholy.)
Does any of this sound familiar? We yearn for something -- that one thing that promises to fulfill us, to make life more beautiful or satisfying -- and God quietly gives it to someone else. He asks us merely to wait on Him, look past the evidence, and believe that His heart is unfailingly good, loving and wise toward us. To be believers in more than name only.
That's one reason it helps -- a lot -- to enumerate the gifts that are already seen. Trivial or weighty, they remind me that while life isn't meant to be "fair," don't we often, through His generosity, get so much more than we deserve?
#168. When the Professor makes me a cup of his perfect coffee in the morning.
169. Our puppy, who loooooooooves me and follows me everywhere. The Professor and I both not-so-secretly believe he likes us best.
170. Listening to the wind sigh through the trees through our open window as I snuggle into bed.
171. Love notes from my girls.
172. A sunny afternoon dedicated to splashing in a waterfall at a nearby state park.
173. These shoes. Sorry, call me shallow, but sometimes it's just enough to know there are things of such beauty out there. They don't have to be mine. Right?
174. Finishing a Saturday morning run with my running buddies, who won't let me lose my groove.
175. Hearing the golden words, "Just one more chapter, pleeeeeeease?" (We were reading this.)
176. A short but fun time at NASA Day on the Capitol lawn.
177. Declaring Flip Flop Season officially open.
178. Handwritten letters in the mail from the one-and-only Nicole.
179. Anticipating the second season of the most thought-provoking, expertly crafted Downtown Abbey.
180. Miniature roses like pink gracenotes in my under-tended garden.