What I Want My Son To Know About Life

Son, I want you to know that you will hear a lot of people say that life isn’t fair. Well, they’re right. And they’re wrong.

Life changes all the time, and it’s unpredictable. When all is going well, that lack of predictability will make you happy. You’ll feel like you’ve won the lottery…heck, maybe you WILL win the lottery; that’s the epitome of unpredictability. During these times, you’ll think all the naysayers who claim life isn’t fair are just jealous haters.

On the other hand, when life dips you into a trough, you might bewail your misfortune. You’ll think about how seemingly random acts led you to a dark place; or, you may want to beat yourself up because some of your actions had unexpected, negative consequences. This is when you’ll agree with the agonized Greek chorus bemoaning the injustice of existence.

Like I said, son, Life is unpredictable. That’s actually what makes it great. If everything unfolded exactly as we’d like, then existence would become so predictable that it would be practically worthless.

So, life will be unfair sometimes, and life will be uh-may-zing at others. Your job is to create within yourself a place of calm and inner peace that will add joy to wonderful times and that will insulate you from too much negativity during rotten times.

You recently told me that you learned about the prophet Job in Sunday school. Job is a good example of what I’m talking about. He is subjected in a brief period of time to more loss, terror, heartbreak and physical ailments than your average person endures over the course of an entire lifetime.

When his story opens, he’s living the good life. He has everything he needs and even all that he wants. In short, he’s a good guy living a good life and the last person who would ever say that life isn’t fair. Sure, he must have had neighbors who didn’t have enough…sheep or goats or myrrh…or whatever people needed back then. And he probably felt bad about their misfortune. Chances are, he even shared some of his surplus goods with his neighbors. Job strikes me as that kind of guy.

Then, in a matter of days, everything Job has is gone. And what did he do to deserve such a fate? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. God wanted to prove Job’s faith in Him wasn’t contingent on Job’s successful life. Of course, I’ve always wondered why an omniscient God couldn’t simply have looked into Job’s heart and found his proof without subjecting Job to countless tortures, but…well, then we wouldn’t have much of a story, would we?

The stories in the Bible don’t always make rational sense, but that’s because they’re designed to make a point to their readers. The point of Job’s story is that misfortune can visit us at any time in any place and for any (or for no) reason.

We can’t control that. That’s something you need to know about life, son, and I think it bears repeating. No matter how much we strive for success and contentment, forces beyond our control could assert themselves at any time and knock us to the ground.

That’s why it’s important to focus on how Job responds to his misfortune. As he loses his wealth, his loved ones, his status, his health and his friends, he remains positive for a very long time. He has within himself a peacefulness that isn’t affected by outside forces. Yes, Job finally asks, “Why me?” God blasts him for that, going on and on about how Job needs to remember that he’s just a mortal and God is…God. But I don’t think you should focus on the fact that even Job finally loses his patience and serenity.

No, you should focus on the fact that he endures his losses peacefully for so long.

That’s what makes Job a man worth following, worth emulating, worth incorporating into yourself.

Job endures. Job abides. That’s what I want for you, son. Yes, I want you to be very, very successful. But more importantly, I want you to be able to face life when it seems completely unfair. That’s the mark of a strong human being. That’s the man I want you to be.