Delight in the Unexpected

How many of you have ever rented a storage unit?  My husband and I have rented at a storage facility twice. Once was to use the fenced in yard for storing the boat, I convinced him we needed at a boat show and the second time was when we were preparing to move here to the middle. I had a hunch with moving in winter we should spend the fall making trips to a storage facility not far from the house so that in case there was bad weather we didn’t find ourselves in a jam. I truly believe the hunches and strong gut feelings I get are straight from above because wouldn’t you know we had to move up our moving day because a snowstorm was coming and sure enough our first morning here in our farmhouse we woke to a thick blanket of snow.

While it was fine for these storage facilities to exists in someone else’s front yard when we needed them, their existence struck me much differently when they showed up across the street of my parent’s house.  There is something about being able to head home or back to a memorable place and the nostalgia is still there from yesteryear. And maybe for you it does, I hope it does, but in my case when you grow up in the country where you could once only see fields as far as the eye could reach, change seems to catch its scent and come running at you whether you like it or not and those changes that occur are clearly visible as a UDF and car wash hardly blend into the countryside landscape.  

I remember the first field by my family home to give way to growth. It used to grow corn that as I child I swore was as tall as a skyscraper or maybe could reach up to Jack and the bean stalk.  In that field, a farmhouse and barns were burned to make way for hundreds of homes.  Having been used to cascading views, uninterrupted sunsets, and very little traffic. These homes disrupted all those things. We could have let the growth of the community fester anger and we could have chosen to not engage with those who were now next-door neighbors, but our family chose to see this not as a disruption, but an unexpected opportunity.

I have found that what may sometimes feel like a disruption in our lives are probably better labeled as unexpected interruptions. You see the dictionary pairs the word “problem” with disruption. I don’t know about you, but when my class was disrupted by the PTO coffee cart on teacher appreciation day, it certainly wasn’t viewed as a problem for me. Or maybe your train of thought was disrupted when a text comes through from a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time.  On the other hand, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we do feel like our lives have been disrupted.  Can you think of a time when you felt like you were disturbed with a problem?  Maybe at work a new coworker has been brought on and from the looks of it, you think there is hardly any common ground between the two of you-how will you ever get along?  It’s in these moments when we have an opportunity to flip the script on what seems to be a problem and commit to being resolved to seeking out the good in the situation. 

While the meaning or importance of these interruptions may not be revealed to us by the end of the day, week, month, or years later, it is likely they arrive in times necessary to tweak our path and to help shape us into whom we are meant to be.  Can you think back to a time when there was something unexpected occurred but then things turned out better than you thought they would?

I have to say that while the view is deeply missed, it remains etched in my memory, I do cherish the memories and friendships of those who came to be a part of our community. As a child I was able to ride my bike from morning until dusk, spend time with friends who I wouldn’t have likely met. Made a best friend who would listen to all my guy troubles-he was so patient, we’d go in the same group to prom and home coming, and we even went off to the same college our freshman year.  And all because of the change in the country landscape. Had the earth literally not been moved on the farm next door when I was a child, I guarantee it would have spun the gears in a different direction changing some aspect of my life that I now wouldn’t change a bit.  

So how do we delight in the unexpected. I think we may all agree that it’s easier to find delight in a surprise birthday party, a love note left on the dash of the car, or a refund in the mail from a bill you over paid. But how do we deal with unexpected events that at first seem extremely uncomfortable or impossible to stand up against?

I reached out to my followers on Instagram and asked them this very question. And one of my friends shared her personal situation as well as how she moves through challenging seasons. She said, “I just have to focus on our blessings. We recently took on the full-time care of a family member shortly after bringing home our 6th baby to our 1,200sq ft 1800’s farmhouse in need of major repairs. Lots of laughter, tears, and prayers.” Others shared they look at the situation and find “ways it was/is positive to myself and family.” Another said, “Roll with it knowing the Lord is directing my paths. It helps me stay positive.”

Whether you are a believer or not, I think we can all find common ground around the word positivity. So much of how we perceive the situations we find ourselves in is in our control. Is it always easy to find the positive, absolutely not? There are going to be times when we feel like we are grasping at straws to find the good in whatever it is we are wading through. We may find the positive in something that on a normal day is so minute, but when you’re in the trenches it’s the one thing that can keep you moving forward. For some they may call it counting their blessings, for others it may be taking inventory of the things that are constant and there for you when you feel unsure of everything else-like a cozy bed, that cup of morning coffee, or a Netflix show that can provide a little bit of a distraction from everything else going on.

But don’t take my word for it. If you like a little more science behind it, shared an article titled Benefits of Positive thinking for body and mind. In the article it’s said that positive thinking can result in stress relief, increased immunity, improved wellness, and better resilience.

When it comes to stressful situations, those who are more positive can cope more effectively and are more likely able to devise a plan on how to move forward and aren’t afraid to ask for help or advice.  As for Increasing your immunity, researchers have found activation in areas of the brain associated with negative emotions led to weaker immune response to a flu vaccine and your overall wellness improves reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular problems and it’s been seen to increase lifespan. And who doesn’t want to be a little more resilient from time to time? When it comes to coping with difficult times those who are positive can face those more trying times with strength and resolve.

After a lot of thought this past week, I’ve decided the next time I drive home to see my parents and I see those storage units and their bright red letters, I’ll choose to let it be a reminder of the field that brought many childhood memories to me as well as friends. And on the days, I’m a little less optimistic, because let’s be honest, we all have those days and those moments, I’ll come in the back of the neighborhood and ask my mom to pull the shades so I can pretend those fields still exists.

Where do you stand. Are you someone who typically is positive about the interruptions that come your way, or do you find yourself a bit defeated? I hope that whichever side you find yourself on, you know that you aren’t alone when it comes to life’s interruptions. For a matter-of-fact John 16:33 says, ” I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble. Be brave! I have defeated the world.” I hope that whatever comes your way in the days to come you will look for the light in the darkness and that it will help carry you through in the days to come.  


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