They say there are two kinds of people. Those who love surprises and those who hate them. If you asked me which camp I belong to, I would say, oh YES...I love surprises. I like surprise birthday parties, surprise vacation locations, surprise presents, surprise visits from friends (well, certain friends).
One of my favorite films is “Dan in Real Life” starring Steve Carell. Have you seen it? It is just my kind of movie, with the perfect mixture of soulfulness, romance, grief, laughter, and family. The very last quote of the movie is brilliant. Dan, the widowed father of three girls, who writes a parenting column says this
“I want to talk to you about the subject of plans… life plans and how we all make them, and how we hope that our kids make good, smart, safe plans of their own. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of our plans don’t work out as we’d hoped. So instead of asking our young people, ‘What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’maybe we should tell them this: Plan… to be surprised.”
I remember my 16th birthday. I had braces and a black dress on, thinking I was headed for a day of shopping with my mom. We had a brief stop off at my mom’s place of work, The Newark Hilton, where she played piano. She ran in and I waited in the car. She came back out, insisting that I come in and see the “most beautiful bride who was having her reception in the hotel.” I got out of the car, not really too interested to be honest, and sauntered in. My mom opened the door to a room filled with friends and family. My friend Justin, and his newly-formed band were playing “Today is your birthday.” My brace face lit up with joy as I looked around and saw everyone who was there to celebrate me.
That’s my kind of surprise.
Fast forward fourteen years, and month after month, turns into year after year, and I look at my one child, growing older and older and my arms feel emptier and emptier. No baby this month. Not this month either. Now they will be four years apart. Now they will be five years apart. Will she ever have a sibling? I so desperately want her to have a sibling. Now they will be six years apart. Turns out I would never birth another baby out of this womb.
That surprise changed my life. It took me so very long to surrender to that surprise, to accept it as the path my life would take. I was so, so attached to my own dreams and plans, that when they got seriously derailed, my world felt like it fell apart…for years. It took a long time for me to surrender to God’s dreams for me and let go of the ones I had made for myself.
Just as surprising as infertility is the gift that sits before me this morning. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty who has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine.
Since she came into our lives in a way I never would have imagined, there have been many surprises. Surprise after surprise really. Some have been excruciating and some have been beautiful. It’s life. It’s surprising.
And I am learning how to relax into this life, loosening my grip and surrendering to the path that God lays out for me, the story He is writing.
Plan to be surprised. That’s some seriously great advice. I am still learning how to let go of the plans I have for my own life—but in this season of my journey, I sense the Spirit’s invitation to let go of the plans I have for my children, releasing them into the care of God, and trusting that His surprises, His plans, His path is better than any I could ever dream up or imagine.