Monday, May 3, 2010


It is Monday morning, it is raining, and I am sitting here at 5:45 a.m. with two wet dogs running through my house. Some days just start out with a general understanding that on some level there is a high probability that they are going to totally suck. Maybe not...but probably so.

We all have a probability meter...something that tells us from our experience how likely we are to be in "Danger! Will Robinson!" territory based on any number of factors. I mean, we can be strangers in a town...and can pass by numerous places to eat or get gas based solely on what we assume the likelihood is of getting e-coli or being mugged in the parking lot.

We will avoid classes with certain teachers because we know that they have a reputation of being impossible. We won't use certain contractors because they are known to be reliable. We won't attend certain functions because we believe that we will be uncomfortable.

Or will we?

I've found that a lot that is on the surface is accurate...but a lot of it is not. Our most beloved places to eat appear to be "dumps" from the outside. The nicest people with the biggest hearts sometimes look like they could be in the ring for WWE. Sometimes the teachers we avoid are the ones that are meant to change the world through those that are fearless enough to give it a whirl.

Life is like that. We are constantly surprised by how wrong our impressions are...and yet we are still often surprised when they were right. Well, maybe we are surprised that we had the audacity to assume that another possibility existed. It is one of those interesting things that is difficult to explain and impossible to accurately analyze. You just know. You just trust your gut.

Yesterday, someone I know was surprised by someone she thought she had figured out. Based on the facts, and 47 years of experience, I thought that she was probably on the right track. But sometimes people will surprise you in a good way. Not least in matters of the heart. But sometimes just often enough to keep life interesting.

I know that for me, I've more often than not drawn the short stick in getting what I really wanted when something didn't truly matter. But when something really did matter...I've come out far better than I deserve. So little annoyances like not being included in this or that, not being able to see every one of my dreams come true and not winning the lottery really don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Right now, I am just happy that life has its little surprises. Rosebushes that bloom profusely with very little encouragement. Children that turned out more wonderful and beautiful than I had dared to hope. Friends who have not only stood by me when I've needed it, but who have now come from the distant past to enrich my present life. A husband that has tolerated me for the better part of twenty seven years (including being married nearly twenty five of those).

I don't know why we live our lives suspended between getting what we expect from people and getting more or less. We do the best that we can to figure it all out, and then we just have to assume that God has it under control. Even those times that we are hanging on by a thread and know that there is no net below us. We put our hearts and our trust out there hoping against hope that it will all work out in the end. Sometimes it does, and other times it doesn't. But if it doesn't...we pick ourselves up and learn from the experience.

All I know is that I was surprised that there is a young man who did the right thing this week. He could have been who I thought he was and that would have been fine. He may turn out to be what I expect in the end...but for now...I'm enjoying the fact that he surprised me. There's a lot to be said for that. Primarily because I tend to think the worst and go up from there. Call it a defense mechanism or a survival strategy if you want...but it is just my way.

We all love to be wrong about people in a good way. It certainly beats the alternative of thinking the best and being brutally disappointed. I know that particular road well. Don't we all?

Some of life's sweetest joys are borne of surprises. New babies, proposals, a litter of puppies, a long-lost friend, a winning raffle ticket, an unspeakably beautiful sunset or a National Championship. We'd like for our lives to reflect the positive surprises...but sometimes the not so positive ones seem to take center stage for a season. But if we hold on long enough...or if we open our eyes and look around...we will find surprises to balance the disappointments of life. Sometimes in incredible ways.

I hope that you will be surprised in a good way today. Not with a speeding ticket, a series or red lights when you can't afford to be late or a storm warning that puts you in a closet in the center of your house. I hope that you will be surprised by the goodness of people, the grace of God, and the wonder of life. There's a strong probability that you will...if you look closely enough.

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