Photo by Elijah Ekdahl on Unsplash

Unfair: A Friend Gets Left Behind

It was a cool, crisp Fall day, a welcomed change from the hot, stifling weather we’d had just weeks before. And as the boys and I packed up their backpacks for the very first day of school, we couldn’t help but get excited about the holidays that were to come, too. It was—and still is—our family’s favorite time of year.

But the excitement wasn’t the only feeling buzzing around that day.

Our older son, Nate, lived and breathed anything math and chemistry-related. And now, he was starting his first year of middle school. He’d be going to a non-traditional academy with a focus on science and technology and a commitment to more equitably extending opportunities to children of different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. This school couldn’t be a more perfect fit.

The problem was, though, that this school only allowed admittance through lottery. After months of submitting paperwork, meeting deadlines, and jumping through seemingly endless hoops, it was finally time to see if luck was on our side. Just a month or so prior, we were sitting in a room waiting to see if Nate would be drawn via a computer application that randomly selected numbers assigned to each potential student. The room was stacked and packed. I mean literally. There were entire families there with their younger children sitting on top of tables because there was simply no room left.

Only 30 names would be chosen, and we all held our breath with each number that was announced. We waited and waited as other families erupted in cheers and had mini celebrations after their child’s name was drawn. But thankfully, our turn came. Nate was drawn as number 22. The immediate thrill and relief were palpable. But soon, my heart ached, too. As we made our way out of the crowded building, I couldn’t help but see the kids who didn’t make it in, whose names weren’t drawn. Many parents draped their arms around their children to comfort and lead them to the privacy of the car. Others had stepped aside into the grassy area to dab away tears and talk. It was rough to see. And I know we could have very easily been there ourselves.

I think it was the weight of this that dampened Nate’s spirits as he got ready to board the bus. It didn’t help that one of his best friends didn’t make it. Instead, his friend would be forced to go to the school he was assigned to in the neighborhood, a rough school—quite frankly—with a horrible reputation for a reason. Nate felt lucky. He was lucky. But his heart hurt and grieved for his friend whom he knew would likely suffer. It wasn’t fair.


Life can let us down and leave us hurting. When this happens, we can be left feeling helpless, too.

But this is how we feel. It’s not necessarily reality.

We’re never truly helpless—despite how we may feel. Refuse to give into this lie. While we may not be able to rectify things, there are always things we can do to make things better for ourselves and others.

What are some specific things you can do to improve how you feel when life is unfair and you are hurting?

What can you do to make things better for others?

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