Sometimes I find myself absolutely surprised at what goes on in my life. Granted, I am supposed to be considered an "active participant" in said life but I am amazed at least once a day at how God jumps out there and surprises me with something. Often it is very positive, and I get to walk through the day with a smile on my face - feeling all special like I used to in first grade when it was my day to hand out paper towels or made the only 100 on the spelling test. That joy that just bubbles up from the deep recesses of the heart and frees one from worry and stress and drama.
Some days, it is as simple as having the K-cup hit the trash can instead of catapulting itself in such a manner that it sprays coffee gradeaux all over the wall in plain sight of a coworker. Because, quite frankly, I find that making a mess when I toss anything anywhere is the default mode. Or I see a rainbow as I'm feeling low and tired of the rain and I look up...and there it is. The light that I just know I'm about to run or have to slam on brakes to avoid a camera ticket miraculously stays green as I approach it, or there's a parking place in front of Costco instead of the back forty where I'll forget where I left the car and wander aimlessly all over the parking lot.
It can be anything from a friendly hello from an old friend I haven't seen in years to a young person who takes the time to just chat with me because they are enjoying the conversation as much as I am. It may be a text message that invites me to lunch or from one of my kids that just reminds me that I am loved by the children I treasure.
Just surprises. Little gifts that I open all of the time without really thinking about it and often take for granted.
The reverse, however, I tend to never miss. Which is sad but true.
The forgetting my bath water and emptying the hot water tank so I take a bath that is borderline arctic. The newly painted mailbox that is a fresh target for the flocks of birds that fly overhead nearly constantly. The friend who won't answer the phone or return my calls because she failed to turn the volume up on her phone after church on Sunday when all I need to do is relay some information, get a response and move on. Being seated at a table at a restaurant where I have choose between breathing and possibly being wedged in because I've already waited forty minutes for a table and shouldn't be this big anyway...so by gosh, I'm not moving. (Possibly ever.)
Yeah, those things. We all have them. They are like tiny gremlins in our lives whose number one concern is stealing our joy. And they are really, really good at it. Primarily because we allow it.
I've sat beside cars where someone is just beating on the steering wheel because they missed a red light. Where someone in the grocery store was using a sharp tone to speak to a child who had probably just approached DefCom 5 on the last nerve. When the item you are looking for at the right price that you've been watching to go on sale is there in every size except yours. When "breaking news" messes up the movie you've been watching and it is news that you couldn't care less about in the first place.
It is difficult when you are in "those moments" to just let go of the emotion. But failing to do so makes you look a bit idiotic or unkind or impatient. Not that you'll care at that point in time...not even a little bit.
I read recently from a book by Andy Andrews...and I believe it to be true that all of us are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or headed for a crisis because such is the nature of life. So, try to use those little cosmic surprises and random acts of kindness as your focus instead of what is going wrong. Focus on what you can eat instead of what you can't. Pay attention to who loves you in your life instead of who has wronged you. Determine to make your corner of the world a little bit better instead of expecting to be a recipient all of the time. There is a lot of joy in being the one who spreads it...possibly even more so than for those on the other end.
In the heat of the moment...that's hard to do. Almost impossible sometimes.
Just focus on what is lovely, praiseworthy, kind, loving, fun, amazing, unique, special, thoughtful, and yes...surprising. May as well set your focus there...because it is more challenging to do this than to start listing what all goes wrong in any given day. But focusing on what goes wrong makes everyone around you start to notice it too. And then they don't like that feeling but they carry it into their interactions. Eventually, if it happens often, they'll begin to associate that bad feeling with being around you. And the unpleasantness that started out as one thing that didn't go your way turns into a whole lifetime of negativity that causes ripples beyond what you intended...and takes people out of your circles because they associate the negativity and sob stories of life with you.
Do the more difficult thing...focus on what is going right.
That's hard to do when you have a loss, bad news or a very difficult mountain to climb. But along the way, there are reminders that God is there trying to catch your attention and your heart. Just try to find those and keep walking. Or crawling. Or waiting. You'll be fine. You are exactly where God wants you or know that He is trying to get you back to where you need to be.
I don't know about you, but I love being around happy people. People who are just happy to be here living life. Who find the humor in the negative and who smile through the pain because nothing can touch the core of who they really are. Those people inspire me to get out of my cave of bad thoughts and expectations and just enjoy the sunlight that they bring. These people cause ripples of joy that go far beyond what they intended as well.
So, today, as you face whatever is before you, just try to remember to look for the little surprises and to try to keep it as positive as you can. Yes, there is a time to mourn and a time to be frustrated as you are standing in the pouring down rain with a flat tire. But just know that everything you do and everyone you come into contact with has some purpose...or you wouldn't be here drawing breath. Try to make sure that while you are, you are trying to change the world by being a pleasant surprise to someone else out there. They don't even have to appreciate it. God wastes nothing.
Wishing you a delightful day full of pleasant surprises and unspeakable joy.