I hate surprises.
I am planner to the core. I’ve never been the type of person you can call last minute and invite to an impromptu dinner. I need to know when, where, how long it takes to get there, how much it cost, what’s on the menu, and how long we will have to stay. I’ve never randomly hopped in my car with no predetermined destination. And the mere thought of someone randomly popping up at my house to say ‘hi’ stresses me out. As you can imagine, I am a total kill-joy to anyone who enjoys impulsive and spontaneous living.
I like to know all of the details before I make a decision, and I pride myself on always being prepared. This mentality has given me a very comfortable, safe, (and admittedly) unadventurous life. I’m hardly ever caught off guard, and my cautious approach has undoubtedly protected me.
Or has it?
A few years ago for my 22nd Birthday, my friends got together and decided to throw me a surprise party. Knowing that I would completely freak out at the sight of 30 people popping out from couches yelling “SURPRISE!!”, my little brother Chris secretly called me on the way there to warn me. “Hey sis, just wanted to give you the heads up- you didn’t hear this from me, but we’re throwing you a surprise party. Make sure you dress nice and fix your hair. I know you would have flipped if you walked in looking like a bum. Oh, and pick up a bag of ice, we ran out”.
Now, most people would have been furious. But not me. My brother knows that I HATE SURPRISES. This actually solidified his place on my Top Favorite People EVER list. His warning allowed me to get my hair and makeup right, brace myself, and not be caught off guard!
But, it also robbed me of the awesome experience of unexpectedly showing up to a room full of people who wanted to do something really nice to celebrate me. I’ll never truly know what that moment would have felt like because my obsession with control and preparation was more important than appreciating the joy of life’s unexpected roses.
Stick with me, I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
What if I told you the real reason many of us are freaking out about being single, or getting that new job, or having our first baby is our obsession with control and our desire to plan and figure out the life that “we claim” we have placed in God’s hands?
If God stood before you today and showed you your entire future, you would probably feel relieved……. and extremely disappointed. Sure, you would know what to expect, but it would remove the excitement of faith in knowing the best is yet to come. And, it may even devastate you once you see that your life will not be all butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes, life simply does not go the way you always thought it would. Sometimes it does. But any “seasoned” person will tell you, the greatest joys and pains in life are often times unexpected.
I’m learning to embrace surprises. I had no idea that I would be who I am, doing what I am, and standing where I am at 27 years old. And thankfully so! Had I known, I would have tried to create shortcuts, eliminated all of my pain and losses, avoided obstacles, and ultimately missed those random surprise situations and relationships that were meant to shape me into the woman that I am today. I needed those surprise seasons of hurt, triumph, loss, reconciliation, rejection, bitterness, and forgiveness to be effective in carrying out God’s purpose and plan for my life.
So today, I am a single woman living in Phoenix, AZ, with an awesome family, a great job, and beautiful friends. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married. I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids. I don’t know if I’ll die next week. But I do know, Romans 8:28 “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And that is all I need to know! In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my life to the fullest and appreciate as many surprise memories as possible.
We don’t have to scramble through life over-planning and obsessively trying to figure out things that may or may not happen. I truly believe God doesn’t always lay it all out for us because there are lessons to be learned, seasons of growth, phases of loss, and ever-increasing wisdom that we can use to encourage others, and ultimately give the glory to Him. The mysterious faith-filled journey of the unknown is the true beauty of a life with Christ.
I hope this meets you where you are, and I encourage you to live in the moment. Tomorrow is not promised, so stop trying to figure it all out. Just take it one step at a time, and commit to getting better every single day. Enjoy the ride, and trust that when you least expect it, God will throw you the ultimate surprise party.
One time for the nation,