If you are one of those people who try to prepare for whatever the next day’s schedule holds or the next week, you are likely a planner. Even if that is not you, you have likely had hopes and dreams of or for certain things in your life. We all have some of these qualities even if they vary by degree. But as we go along doing the best we can, we may well express, “But I thought…” The statement refers to an expectation that has not been realized and that happens at times despite our best efforts.
Things like this can be small such as a day we need to get a list of things accomplished for work, at home, or in some area of our life. We try to schedule to make sure we can succeed in the goal, but the car breaks down, the Internet goes offline, we or someone whom we love gets sick and we need to handle that instead of the list of things in the plan.
Maybe we decide we really need to address the debt we acquired. We get help to set up a budget and feel good about starting to whittle away at the bills that stack up. We may even have an emergency line in the budget for something unexpected, but the routine service on our car reveals a major repair is needed that exceeds what the budget allows, and we feel discouraged that our efforts are thwarted.
Perhaps we have determined to do a better job with taking care of our health. We’re on track with healthier eating habits and start exercising regularly and setting a sleep schedule – even drinking more water. We keep our regular doctor checkups and feel good and then blood work comes back that says all of that was not enough somehow or the doctor discovers something lurking inside of our body we did not know was there. We feel disheartened and anxious when we worked so hard to be and stay healthy and now our body seems to have betrayed us. We followed the best health professional’s advice and some disease or ailment caught us anyway. Sometimes we are tempted to wonder what the point of the whole effort is when we don’t get the payoff we expected for our hard work as well as the expense of time and money to be as healthy as possible.
Many of us (even with these things) felt grateful we live in a time in history when the medical and scientific advances allow us to enjoy freedom from the scourge of mysterious epidemics that destroy thousands of people but then a pandemic shows us and hangs on with a tenacity we could not have imagined. Or we live in a neighborhood that has given us a sense of safety until crime surges and even our neighborhood gets hit with things we have not seen before. We see danger in places we did not expect to see it and the world feels less safe.
Reading Psalms (especially in The Message rendering) reminds us this is not unique to any one of us or all of us, but is common to humankind and life on this earth. Somehow we missed the clear constant reality that life is full of many unpacked twists and turns. If we are younger, we might be more surprised. We might believe those things happen to “other people” or “older people.” If we are older, we are likely to be less surprised and yet get caught with something that upends us.
Most of us have been living with more uncertainty as a result of how the world seems to be spinning out of control in so many ways and areas. More than the pandemic has happened to us and tempts us to anxiety, restless nights, and discouragement.
Matthew Kelly has some reminders for us all in his newest release, Life is Messy:
“We all end up living unexpected lives.
Life doesn’t unfold according to our plans. But sooner or later, we each have to decide how we are going to make the most of our one brief, unexpected life. It is then that we come face-to-face with two enduring truths: We cannot live without hope that things will change for the better, and we are not victims of our circumstances.
Hope is not always as accessible as we would like. It often seems just out of reach at those times when we are most in need of it, when our hearts are broken, our minds downtrodden, and our souls crushed. Yet, even in those moments, we have a choice. The unexpected is either a curse or an opportunity. We get to decide.”Matthew Kelly in Life is Messy
And decide we must. The One who created us gave us choice in how we respond to what comes our way.