Surprises are mostly fun, aren’t they? When people think of surprises, the things that come to mind are usually along the lines of birthdays, gifts, or opportunities. When we get past those superficial answers, though, we remember that so much of life is made up of unforeseen circumstances. No one can predict their lives and how they will go; what car they will drive, how many kids they will have, and what highs or lows they will experience. Honestly, the unknown can be a fun thing if we allow ourselves to give up control and experience life in real time.
Our latest unforeseen circumstance was of the medical variety, although it was strictly orthopedic (thankfully). My healthy thirty-one year old husband completely ruptured his Achilles while playing basketball. There were no signs leading up to it, and there was no preparing for it. One minute he was running around the court, and the next minute, he was unable to control his foot. Life hit us at one hundred miles an hour in a single second.
After having surgery to repair the ruptured tendon, he is unable to bear weight through that leg for a few weeks. That may not seem like too big of a deal until you go through your daily routine and consider all of the things that require the use of both lower limbs. Getting up from a chair (or toilet), negotiating steps to get into/out of a house, carrying anything in your hands, playing with your child, driving, moving around efficiently, and getting dressed are just some of the things that are currently impossible or require help for the next few weeks. Poor guy. In a second, his functionality went from high level to very limited. Thankfully, he will be back to normal in a few months. It could be much longer.
While it seems that we are going through it currently, this will soon be a blip on the screen; a distant memory that we will one day chuckle at and say “remember when you tore your Achilles?” This will undoubtedly bring us closer together as a family, and everyone will have to grow in things like patience, compassion, and the ability to both serve and be served.
Trials and challenges offer a change in perspective for everyone involved, from the person that needs more help, to the person who must give more help, to the one whose needs must take a backseat for a while. There is a lot to be learned from unforeseen circumstances, when we aren’t prepared for everything by having all of our ducks in a row.
God allows challenges to come our way to refine us, and to strengthen our trust in Him. Would we trust as much if we had a table of contents to refer to? If we were given a bird’s eye view of our future before we lived it, would that improve our reliance upon God?
The answer is no, obviously.
None of us know what our days will hold, but we do know Who holds our days. It is not until you are walking in the fog or darkness that we realize how much we need the light.
Growing older and wiser is best done via life experience. I frequently reflect on the lessons I have learned in my life, but especially those in the last five years. Some things you just have to learn by doing and experiencing, and that is what the last few years of my life have taught me. Caring for other people, whether big or small, both at work and at home, has made me grow in ways I couldn’t imagine. For that, I am thankful.
Even though the unforeseen challenges were not always easy, they have always been valuable.