I recently talked for hours with a good friend. We shared about our lives and this place we find ourselves in. It’s not the place we expected or dreamed of when we met each other as much younger versions of ourselves, or even when we were in college and thought we knew so much. Instead it is a place of uncertainty, change, risk, ambiguity, rearranging, (insert various make-you-wanna-squirm-kinds-of-adjectives here). After our talk, she sent me an email that was so beautifully encouraging that I asked her if I could share it on my blog (anonymously). She agreed. So here it is. Read. Be encouraged. Be challenged. Be.
In college, a friend of mine had a boyfriend who we all knew would marry her one day. He delighted in knowing her well, and in surprising her. Usually this involved small treats like her favorite candy, but one year he bought her tickets to a concert for the night before her birthday, as a gift. She’d never listened to this particular band before, and her reaction to the tickets was anger and frustration. He knew her so well, he knew what she loved, why on earth did he buy her tickets to a concert of a band she’d never listened to! For her birthday! I’m sure she was expecting roses and a candle-lit dinner. You know, the usual. That’s what all the other boyfriends did for their girlfriend’s birthdays. So she refused to go, refused to speak to him, even.
I bought a ticket off of him and we went with a group of friends who were also going. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We all ate dinner at this quirky restaurant that he was planning to bring her to, that she would have thoroughly enjoyed. And whether you knew the band or not, the concert was stunning. Outdoors, lights and melodies and a summer breeze floated through the treetops and hills as the sun set over the city. I will never forget it, and I know she would have loved it. Later, after her anger had faded and she agreed to listen to a few of their CDs, she wished she had gone. His plan was to introduce her to something he loved and delighted in, something he knew she would love too. It wasn’t what she had expected, but had she trusted that he knew her and loved her and would only share good things with her, she would’ve had one of the best nights of her life with the man who would eventually become her husband. Instead, she got two weeks of arguments and tears.
I think I’ve been expecting the candle-lit dinner in the shnazzy restaurant. Things seemed to be going well, I felt like I was learning and growing and being challenged. At the end of the day you can’t really be all that surprised if God takes away the white picket fence dreams and sends you to the other side of the world and teaches you to love these strange people who are needy and broken just like you and ever so beautiful. He’s been doing that for centuries.
But all of the sudden God pulled out tickets to a concert for a band I’ve never heard of. It’s unfamiliar and unexpected, and certainly not how I saw things going. But instead of trusting God, instead of remembering that he likes to give good gifts to those he loves and just going with it to see what happens, I’ve spent too much time mourning the loss of the roses and candles. Sure that may be what everybody else is doing for their birthday, but maybe there’s something better.
I think I need to remember that God knows me and loves me and doesn’t want me to expect the same thing every year. I spent a lot of time thinking about all the things I used to have and don’t get anymore (a sense of knowing, security, the safety of ritual, the surety of my direction, etc.) rather than looking forward to what new things may come. But I guess the point is that if you just show up everyday, regardless of whether you know what’s going on, you might just end up somewhere amazing that you’d never expect.
My dear friend,
It is so wonderful to know that others are on journeys similar to my own. I am grateful for you, for so many reasons.
And thanks for this. I needed to remember these things too…
Our Father IS a giver of good gifts – even better ones than we imagine… We just need to wait it out and keep showing up.
So, here’s to letting go of the dreams of roses and candles and the embracing of all the good things He’s brought.
We don’t want to be just like everybody else anyway. These adventures are a joy. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll end up in amazing places, doing amazing things, that we never would have expected. (Oh wait. We already have. And we will some more. I’m almost certain.)
I’m so thankful to know you!