We Can’t Always Get What We Want

Crying BabyThere are few things that I like less than being reminded that there are times in life when things do not go my way – or the way I want them to go. I heard it as a child from my parents and I found myself saying it to my son recently. Being able to hear that is hard sometimes – despite your age or life experiences. Being willing to accept that is a sign of maturity.

I think it comes most often when I am being impatient with issues of control in my life.  I want things the way I want them and when they aren’t happening like I want – I feel it and express my displeasure. Sometimes I do it quietly and maturely.  Sometimes … not so much.  I get frustrated like everyone else.  I try to handle it well.  Sometimes I fail.

I was with a friend some time back who has an infant.  I love babies.  They are so cute, sweet, and cuddly … until they aren’t.   When babies are not happy – they express it with their bodies and their voices.  They are not able to differentiate when they should be patient.  They want something NOW.  There is no waiting.  And they cannot speak to tell others what they need without screaming their little lungs out!

The funny thing (and it’s not really funny) is that I have seen grownups doing the same thing. Stomping their feet in frustration when they don’t get their way. Sometimes they scream and cry out against the injustice of it all.  They moan about others not tending to their needs or others not treating them right.  And I have been guilty of it, too.  But injustice?

Seeing injustice in these situations is just so far from the truth most of the time.  In my life – and in the Christian faith - justice is something that is extremely important.  The astonishingly high number of people without jobs, parents and kids without adequate health care, folks waiting for justice from their government for equal rights, people living without appropriate housing or enough food to feed their families, rampant gun violence on the streets, and a government unable to work for the greater good are stunningly wrong.  These things are unjust. 

Recently people were in the streets crying out for justice for Troy Davis, are right now marching on Wall Street to demand financial accountability, and are working for immigration reform that is just and fair.  People are creating community organizing frameworks to work with their local officials to create jobs and education opportunities.  People are demanding that their government officials work across the aisle to make decisions that will move our country forward (whether they will do it or not is another story).  People are participating in the process of justice making to change the systems that keep folks in poverty. 

All of these things are positive.  All of these things make me smile.  They remind me of my favorite scripture passage – Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Doing justice is hard work.  Doing justice, though, is what we are called to.  It takes action, patience, and community.

We may not get what we want – but trust me – we definitely won’t if we don’t work for it.