Everyone has a little bit of Oprah in us--we don't like surprises. And that's really what happens when things don't turn out the way we planned. Like marriage, life is for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for sickness and in health.
Because surprises are that way. They aren't always the "good" surprises, like fancy parties where all our favorite people come and they all bring you great gifts that you really want. We don't get to always pick the happy ending, or get to live our kids' lives for them so they don't make the bad choices we did.
There's an 89-year-old gentleman who made a rather large prediction about today that sort of didn't pan out. He probably has no groceries in the fridge for tomorrow's breakfast because he wasn't planning on needing any. And I actually feel sorry for the guy--he made a prediction that the world was kaput today, down to a very specific time, and at some point the poor man is going to have to answer the phone and lots of folks are going to want him to give commentary on what didn't happen the way he'd planned.
The surprise party he was looking for today was not the one he wanted.
I was reminded today at a baby shower about my first major run-in with that lesson. I went from being a completely organized, together, focused person to having a newborn. Which, of course means, I went from having control over my life to having no control whatsoever. Surprise! For the first year, or two (or perhaps more) years of my son's life, I had a lot of issues with that no-control thing. I kept trying to get it back (which explains a lot of the 430 previous lessons on control that God's been teaching me).
I also saw a movie this evening--Something Borrowed--which was a sweet movie, with a couple of great actors as main characters. But at some point, the movie didn't turn out the way I thought it should. It didn't come together the way I really wanted it to as a viewer. Ironically, the movie was about the path not taken--what happens when the path you choose doesn't come together like you think it should have.
Meanwhile, as I have proclaimed to the world, I am writing a novel. (If I say this to enough people, then said people will see me and say "How's the novel going?" Which is like having a workout partner, but for writing. If nothing else I will keep writing out of sheer guilt.) But my initial idea for how this book is going to end is probably not how anyone thinks it should be. Honestly, if I were a reader, it might even tick me off when I read it. As I writer, I kind of like that aspect--something that will keep the reader talking about it after it is over. Hopefully not in the "They killed a tree for that?" kind of way.
Life absolutely, positively does not turn out the way you plan. Expectations are fragile, and will be shattered, daily. It doesn't matter whether you have a baby, watch a movie, predict the rapture, or write a book. Sometimes what happens instead is perhaps what you would consider worse, sometimes better. Mostly just different. Learning to roll with that change is what makes life interesting. It's what keeps you talking about the book when you're done reading, blogging about the movie when it's over, and waking up every day to see what's going to happen next--especially if you have kids.
Because you never know when that next surprise is around the corner. And sometimes, it is as simple as having to go to IHOP because the fridge is unexpectedly empty.