I like it when I can remember a line or a quote without writing it down. That usually means I "got it" or that it resonates with my life at the time. Not just the words, but the meaning too. I saw a movie this weekend (Dan in Real Life) that had a couple of those lines. The one that I have been pondering the most was toward the end. As a single dad of three daughters, "Dan" said that if he could tell them anything, he would tell them to "plan to be surprised."
I’ve thought about that a lot. It really is great advice. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it? There are good surprises and they are fun! They are unexpected blessings or unforseen gifts that astonish us or cause us to marvel. There are surprise birthday parties, and surprise visits from loved ones. It almost doesn’t matter what the thing itself is that we are surprised by… it’s the thought that someone was thinking about you when you didn’t think they were! It may be a gift that we are surprised with, that has nothing to do with material goods. There are gorgeous days in mid-November and sudden smiles from a baby. There are unexpected encouraging calls or emails or opportunities. It may be as simple as someone remembering your name and speaking into your life, maybe without even knowing it.
Then, there are the many other surprises that life holds. They are the twists and turns in these lives we lead. They can bewilder, shock, "floor" or overwhelm us. They are as unexpected as the blessings, but can hit us like a bombshell and cause us to question and wonder. The loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a rebellious teenager, a marred marriage or a devastating diagnosis can all qualify as "surprises." They happen suddenly and without warning. They strike or occur with a sudden feeling of astonishment.
Much of life IS a surprise, despite our plans and calculations. Sick children, unexpected bills and broken down vehicles seem to be a part of life. Nevertheless, they also always seem to come as a surprise. So, if it helps us to expect and plan for surprises, then by all means, we should. In the meantime, I encourage you to surround yourself with family and friends who can share "surprises" with you. If it is a blessing, they can rejoice with you, making the experience that much richer. If it is disappointing or even devastating news that surprises you, then they can help serve as shock absorbers and weep with you. Sharing those times takes the whole burden off of you and divides the grief and confusion.
"Plan" to be surprised." Thanks, "Dan!" It is what I now want to tell both my daughters, each of whom deal with the unexpected in completely different ways. One dislikes surprises… even good ones. She needs to know what to expect when. The other goes with the flow and almost delights in the unexpected. She looks forward to what could happen in any given day.
None of us know what tomorrow holds. So, for now, I will keep my feet on a firm foundation, surround myself with family and friends, and "plan" on being surprised. Until next time…