I have heard the phrase “it’s not fair” most of my life. If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me in relation to my brother, I would have a nice and sizeable bank account. Most typical siblings will hear phrases like this over the course of their life— “It’s not fair that you will one day have to take care of your brother or sister.” “It’s not fair that you had so much responsibility placed on you at such a young age.” Believe it or not, I still hear those phrases as an adult.
As typical siblings, we know life isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that we must help with our sibling’s care when our friends are outside playing. It isn’t fair that we are not allowed to go to a friend’s party because our parents can’t get us there and care for our sibling at the same time. It isn’t fair when our sibling gets to meet our favorite sports player because they have a disability and we do not. It isn’t fair that our sibling doesn’t get invited to participate in sports activities and we do. It isn’t fair that we move forward in school and our sibling gets held back, being told they are not able to learn. It isn’t fair that we would sit for hours at the doctor’s office in the waiting room while our sibling had another appointment.
I get it—it isn’t fair—but I learned at an early age that life is not fair. This knowledge didn’t make it any easier when I had to take responsibility for things much earlier in life than my peers. It didn’t make the lack of acceptance by others any less painful. It also didn’t make the tears go away, because the realization that “life will never be fair” hits home in so many ways. If I spent much time thinking about what isn’t fair in my life, I would miss out on what God was and is doing all around me. Growing up in the church, I learned many verses from the Bible that reminded me to not to focus on what is or isn’t fair in my life. Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” This verse is always a great reminder for me to not dwell on what is or isn’t fair in my life, but to dwell on what God is doing. There is one thing I have learned about life and fairness; for life to be fully lived, it doesn’t have to be fair. For that, I am grateful.
Becky Bernier has been with Joni and Friends since 2013. She serves as the Senior Program Coordinator for the Charlotte Joni and Friends Area Ministry. Becky has a brother with cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Her heart is to minister to families impacted by disabilities – especially typical siblings.