This Is Not Fair

The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.

My app tells me we’re in for thunderstorms. It’s mid-60s now, but it’ll be 34 degrees by morning.

I’ll have to crank up my electric blanket tonight. I don’t like cold weather. I may even have to turn up my heat.

I ask the two young men in my car if they keep up with the temperatures. “Oh, yes,” they say. “It’ll be 34 tomorrow.”

I don’t know how they know.

They’re homeless.

But they know.

I’d been talking to one of the boys earlier that night (I’ll call him Sean here), asking how he was doing, how his week has been.

“Not too good,” he says, “things haven’t been going well.”

I never know quite how to respond.

So I mainly just ask more questions. I listen harder.

I ask Sean if he has somewhere warm to stay tonight.

I already had heard that the sally (the Salvation Army) fills up fast. A mom we’d talked to earlier in the day was telling us that. Her grown homeless son was visiting her but he wasn’t allowed to spend the night. It’s against the rules in the public housing apartment where she lives. She asked us to come inside and pray over him. Night and cold and storms are coming.

Sean answers that he isn’t sure where he’ll stay tonight. I’m concerned.

So he asks if I could possibly drive him and his friend to the Rescue Mission.

Oh.

Well, it is on my way home. My car is warm. My tank is full of gas.

I run it by Jeff to get his okay. We both have known Sean for awhile. Sean used to be a volunteer at Manna House before he was homeless. He’d ride his bicycle there from where he lived with his dying mother.

His mother has since passed and Sean is on his own. He and his brother and girlfriend stayed at an apartment for awhile, but it didn’t work out and they were evicted.

Sean lays his backpack in the back of my SUV. His friend sits in the back seat with the loaf of bread he got from Manna House.

It’s all he has.

I ask them about the best places to stay around town, how the Mission compares to Breaking Free or the sally. They fill me in on things I’d never know on my own, about the food they like (or don’t), about the time dinner is served, etc.

I ask how long it would have taken them to walk to the Mission. The friend says an hour and a half, but Sean says longer for him because he walks slow.

We get near the Mission and they say they’ll get out at the stop sign and walk the rest of the way. Sean grabs his backpack. Both guys thank me (I’ve been “Yes, Ma’amed” all night, they are southern boys, after all). They wish me a really good night. Same back to them.

I drive home, a little colder now in my middle-class guilt.

But I roll down the windows anyway. I need to change the smell.

I pull in my garage and unload my own backpack with my Mac computer and one of my many warm jackets and my uncracked iPhone.

But what is on the floorboard of the back seat?

The friend’s loaf of bread.

That does it.

I cry.

It was all he had on him, and now it’s here in my car instead of in his belly.

This is not fair.

I hear the storms rolling in. I turn up my electric blanket a little bit higher.

Not fair at all.

* * *

How does life seem unfair to you? Please share in the comments.

41 thoughts on “This Is Not Fair

  1. Chanda Griese

    Reading your blog was like a wake up call for me. Usually, “life isn’t fair” when it’s not fair to me. Thank you for this others-oriented story and for your servant’s heart for the homeless. Praying for Sean that the Lord will continue to provide for his needs.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m with you, Chanda. I’m most apt to notice, too, when life isn’t fair to ME. But sometimes it just slaps me in the face that it’s more unfair to others than it is to me. God has blessed me beyond my need and I want to never take that for granted! Thank you for your prayers for Sean. His friend told me about some promising plans he had for his life; hopefully that will encourage Sean to have hope as well.

  2. Kristi Woods

    Wow. Just wow. My family and I volunteer at Salvation Army. We fix and serve breakfast one Sunday a month. As the folks filter by and I plop yet another serving of fresh scrambled eggs on their plate, I often wonder what their story is. I’m certain they have one. You’ve shared a story here, Lisa. And I’m so grateful. The left behind loaf is a huge bummer. I watch how the folks come through the line, asking for more than we can initially offer. Just one more biscuit means much. I hope this young man found a replacement loaf. #heartencouragementThursday
    Kristi Woods recently posted…#YourStory: Lanette HaskinsMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know God blesses your family as you serve each week at the Salvation Army, Kristi! That’s wonderful. And I’m sure the people you serve are blessed by you as well. So many stories out there, yes? Each one unique and special just as each person is. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not sure how much I’m truly “out there” but I’m grateful for the times when God overrides my own selfishness to see others who have much harder lives than I do. 🙁

  3. Dianna McBride

    Oh Lisa, I just counted my gifts from Father a few minutes ago. One of them was living in America where food is available in great quantities, mentioning that I’d been in other countries where that was not so. Then I come here and when I read that the friend’s loaf of bread was still in your vehicle when you unpacked the car. I am convicted. You always…always…encourage me to reach out beyond myself. Thank you for being God’s instrument today.
    Dianna McBride recently posted…Pies.. Both Meat and Sweet!My Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you for your sweet words here and on your blog today, Dianna. I would be embarrassed if those boys could see how much food I have in my pantry that just sits there uneaten. 🙁 We have so much. I am grateful that God does provide places all around America for those who don’t have enough though; there’s almost always somewhere to go to get more food, unlike some other countries as you mentioned.

  4. Natalie Ogbourne

    The end of your tale sent a shiver through me. You have a deep awareness of a road untraveled by most. Thanks for investing by your actions and by sharing your experiences. How to invest here is something I wrestle with.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I continue to wrestle with it, too, Natalie. For years I didn’t even see the opportunities, so step one for me has been to have more open eyes. Then I pray that my heart and hands will follow. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

  5. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    Crying with you, Lisa. No, it’s not fair. There’s so much I don’t understand. I do know that (on our side of the story) living out dirty faith is much more about broken hearts and questions than happy hearts. I can’t imagine living the other side of the story, and yet I’m called to walk alongside. Is that loaf of bread haunting you even this morning? It is me…

    I’ve got a post I need to write today. Another real world/”other” world story that makes me weep. I’ve been putting it off.
    Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours recently posted…SALVAGED TREASURES: New old finds for our Finally FarmhouseMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Susan, that loaf of bread is continuing to haunt me. 🙁 I wasn’t sure even what to do with it. I knew it wasn’t feasible to go return it to the Mission, yet I also knew I wouldn’t eat it myself. I just read your post and am in tears for what is happening in Brazil. No, life is definitely NOT fair. God, we need you everywhere!

  6. Beverley

    NO! Life is not fair!
    There were nights after i had finished work and was heading for the bus home when i would see them – three or four of them rolled up like they were nothing, in duvets, sleeping bags and black bags to keep them dry, they were under the shelter by the offices, with their bright lights streaming from their front windows, their doors locked tight and just inside the doors another metal grid pulled down tight and locked, but between the two this space, this empty space where these rolled up people could have slept protected from the cold and wet. But, not, they were nothing and so they got nothing too. The blankets at come from the Sanctuary, which was full i am guessing, but which gave out spare bedding on loan if they had it. Sad to become nothing.
    No! life isn’t fair!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, you paint this picture too clearly, Beverley. I can picture the scene and it makes me cry. Everyone is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity. May God continue to open our eyes to see and hearts to care!

      1. Beverley

        I would leave work at 8pm and in the winter it was dark by then and they were already sleeping, because they had to be gone before day light. Yes, it made me sad, but sometimes all we can do is pray that they are kept safe in their bed rolls.

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          I agree; sometimes all we can do (which may be the very thing we most should do) is pray that they are kept safe through another night. You’re good to even notice the men, Beverley. I’m sure many walked right by without even seeing them. Often the most destitute are also the most invisible.

  7. Trudy

    I love your compassionate heart, Lisa. How devastating to find that bread still in your car. No, life is not fair! I have to ask – God, what makes me to differ that you give me a warm house and bed and more than enough food? Thank you for reminding me to be more grateful for these gifts that I sometimes take for granted and to be more aware of and prayerful for those who don’t have them. Love and hugs to you!
    Trudy recently posted…Clinging to God’s Truth When We Don’t UnderstandMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wonder, too, why God has been so plentiful in his resources with me, and not with others. I know we sometimes blame people themselves for not having what they need, but I can take no credit for being born where I was, into a family that loved me and took care of me, whereas others are born under the worst conditions and it doesn’t get better. May we all learn to be better givers of what we’ve been given and spread it around! Thanks for your encouragement, Trudy.

  8. Jean Wise

    wow, makes me think twice about our middle class whining and problems. We have so many blessings we don’t fully appreciate. I have good friends whose son is homeless in the Detroit area – due to drugs the shelters rarely accept him. He wont’ get treatment. She prays for him but can’t help him anymore. so sad.

    I do practice gratitude but feel a call to get more involve in a justice issue. Life may not be fair but i can give a fair attempt in helping make it more fair.
    Jean Wise recently posted…3 Practical Prayer Habits to Strengthen Your Prayer LifeMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My heart aches for your friend, Jean. Yes, there comes a time when there is nothing we can do but pray. May the Lord intercede in the young man’s life with resources and people who can help him break free from the pain he’s trapped in. I’m not sure how to get more involved in justice issues either but I also want to. I know the Lord will lead us as we seek him. Thanks, Jean, for your heart to make things more fair for others.

  9. Laura Hicks

    It really isn’t fair is it. I work in a situation where I get to see how unfair life is all around me on a regular basis. Honestly I was becoming a bit numb to it. God cracked my heart wide open and instead of numbness or despair over it has given me a passion for helping as well as persistently praying. I’m so glad you shared this. We all need to have our eyes and hearts open.
    Laura Hicks recently posted…God’s Word Gives Us Hope in the Good and the BadMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Workers in your situation are in such a difficult place, Laura. I often wonder how people keep from becoming calloused when they see such hard situations every day. I’m glad that you were open to having your heart cracked, even though it hurts! May the Lord continue to bless you in your work! You are valuable to the Kingdom.

  10. Betsy de Cruz

    Oh Lisa. Thanks for what you’re doing. Not fair to me is a dear young woman I know who grew up in 4 different homes, all relatives. Left by her mom when she was 6 months old. Not fair is how sometimes my efforts to encourage her don’t seem to work? Let’s breathe in deep and keep going?
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…When You Need Your Heart StrengthenedMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, what a hard life your young friend has had from the get-go. 🙁 It definitely seems unfair that not only do we face varying hardships in adulthood, but so many start out from birth from seemingly below-the-curve situations while others of us get to start halfway there. Praying that you stay encouraged as you try to encourage her, Betsy! Yes, let’s breathe in deep and keep going.

  11. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa, so, so hard. It is easy to withdraw and do nothing when we feel so inadequate to make a difference. I applaud you for being there and practicing the pure religion James talks about.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I just read those verses in James yesterday, Debbie, so thanks for applying them here! I’m definitely one who can relate to the overwhelmed feeling and then doing nothing. 🙁 That’s why I need to be intentional about obeying when God plops an opportunity in my lap that I just can’t resist. Thanks for your encouraging words to keep going.

  12. MM

    No, life is not fair, has not ever been, and will not ever be. Can you imagine how Jesus felt as He walked this earth? It was all so unfair too. But thankfully love reaches father, digs deeper, and moves mountains where nothing else will. The love of the Lord shining through you, is reaching into the hearts of those you meet, even if you never see results, even if life seems to bring those terrible moments of unfairness, and somehow, in the end, love will win!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Such encouraging words, thank you! Yes, love will win. He always has and always will, even when we can’t see it along the way. I appreciate you sharing this hope here, Marilyn. Good words and truth!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I wish that too, Lux. Sometimes I wonder how God holds back, waiting on us to change things, when he could step in with a word and make it all right again. He is more patient than I am. 🙂

  13. Amanda

    What a good reminder of how unfair life is. I saw a homeless man when I got off the freeway and tried to give him food and he said no thanks. Sometimes people are grateful other times they say no. It made me wonder what he was doing if he didn’t need food, but then I just decided to pray and not worry. I can only try and help.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You did well, Amanda. Sometimes what we offer isn’t what they are looking for, but when our intentions are honorable, love is spread anyway. We never know what God is doing behind the scenes with those seeds that we may never see!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Carol. I want to be more of an encourager than a complainer, so I have to consciously think about it and switch gears when I slip over to the wrong side.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Barbie: God will provide the opportunities for us to give of whatever we have. It’s not always money (sometimes I wonder if it’s the least about money?), but more about our hearts and energy and attention.

  14. Hazel Moon

    In our city, the Rescue Mission has some beds, but I am not sure how many. They also have a women’s place. Salvation Army has a thrift shop and employees handicapped and others, but again not sure if they offer beds. Recovering addicts in a program, have housing as long as they remain in the program. Then we have Jordan’s Crossing that offers men out of prison, a place to learn a trade, put them to work, but again, I am not sure if they supply housing. Our church turns over our Sunday Evening service to Jordan’s Crossing and on Wednesday when I teach at our prayer meeting, about 20 of the young men from Jordan’s Crossing attend. It is difficult for me to hold a conversation with most people, as even with 2 hearing aids, I don’t hear well, (reason I don’t know more about these things.) I loved your story, and it touched my heart. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.
    Hazel Moon recently posted…Eating, Drinking and Making MerryMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How informed you are of your town’s resources, Hazel! That’s beautiful. We have similar programs in my town, but depending on the weather, they can fill up fast. I don’t think we have a program like Jordan’s Crossing though (love that name!). Maybe that will be in our future. What a wonderful ministry that your church participates in with the young men. Even though you may not can hear them very well, I’m sure your love is evident to them just by your presence.

      1. Hazel Moon

        I discovered that Jordan’s crossings has 4 homes for men, and 1 for women. I have difficulty hearing certain tones such as a men’s low voice. So at our prayer meeting, when the men make a comment, I ask Pastor Rodney, to answer, also if they are speaking to me, I ask Helen what they said. They understand and I get lots of hugs. Pastor did purchase 4 head sets and gave me one to keep so I can hear the sermons. If they turn on the equipment, during our prayer meeting, I can use a head set and hand a microphone to the one sharing. They enter in and enjoy the lessons. Last meeting, I asked “why did the lost sheep get lost?” and other thought provoking questions. Two years ago, I asked Pastor if he had a “focus” for the next prayer meeting, and if not, I had one. He said go for it, and gave the meeting over to me. He says it is a load off his back and then he can attend to other things. I bake 4 loaves of pumpkin bread each week for Sunday, for the 9:30am coffee time, when the homeless come for a treat. The church has coffee and donuts, but my bread is always gone. I love the way you relate to those homeless young men you have met and minister too.
        Hazel Moon recently posted…Eating, Drinking and Making MerryMy Profile

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          You are a blessing, Hazel. I love to hear how people use their gifts in creative ways. There are many ways we can love people and you are doing so many!

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