There are few guarantees in life. It is not guaranteed that life will be simple, or easy, or go according to plan. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of that.
But, I have found that with God, we can learn to embrace unexpected situations—they can become an adventure and a joy. You just gotta laugh and roll with it!
I had that choice to laugh and roll or scream and cry when a special lunch turned into something else. I had two tutoring jobs in the same part of town, with a small lunch break in between.
The plan was to meet a lovely friend for lunch. We hadn’t spent time together in a while, so it was going to be a treat for both of us. We had the perfect spot picked out and everything was set up.
I’m sure you can already imagine where this is going…or can you?
Stuck on a Mountain
Where I live in San Diego, there is a mountain summit with a monument. The small parking lot that surrounds it has views of the water and city. My first tutoring session finished a little early, so I thought with that extra time I would drive up and enjoy the scenery.
Since it was still a little chilly, I chose to park and pray from my car. I’m not always as punctual as I know is respectful, so I purposefully set a timer to leave early enough to still be on time for lunch. Way to go me, right? The timer goes off, I press the button to start my car, and…nothing.
At the time, I drove a Camry hybrid with a keyless ignition. So, I double check: yes, my keys are in the lap; yes, the car is in park. I try again. Still nothing.
Now I’m starting to get a little concerned. I know I drove up here, and the car and headlights have been turned off for the last half hour, so my battery should be fine.
I call the local Toyota dealership, who transfers me to roadside assistance, where a helpful but clearly nowhere-near-California employee offers to call a tow truck for me.
That seems a little drastic. After all, I’m pretty sure my engine is still working. So, I call my friend and ask if she can come pick me up and drive me to the dealership, where they can check the battery on my keys.
Get Stressed or Be Blessed
Now, here’s where I have a choice. Clearly, this coveted lunch date is not going the way I expected. So, I can become stressed and upset, which would be the natural go-to, or I can choose to say, “Ok, God, what are you going to do with this?”
Same with my friend—to her credit, she shows up in record time without complaint and drives me to the dealership.
As soon as I walk in and mention my problem, an older gentleman in a back office calls out, “Oh yeah, that’s radio interference!”
Who knew that was even a thing? Apparently, there is a cell tower near this mountain that interferes with the wavelengths of certain keyless ignitions. I am not the first car to be stranded in such a manner! His solution is just to hold the keypad right next to the ignition.
Well, thank you God, that there is a possibly easy solution. But now, we definitely don’t have time for lunch—or at least, a nice seafood lunch.
With God, we can learn to embrace unexpected situations—they can become an adventure and a joy.
Embrace Unexpected Situations
But, these girls still gotta eat. Grit and grace women, do any of you have a Sonic in your neighborhood? It’s a throwback-style fast food restaurant with drive-up spaces for your car.
Well, there happened to be one close to the dealership. My friend pulls in, and we sit and have tater tots and greasy burgers in the middle of this nondescript neighborhood. Since it was during the pandemic, there was even an employee that had to “sneak” and unlock the bathroom for us so I could go!
This definitely wasn’t in our plans for the day, but you know what? We had a blast! We laughed and talked and caught up and realized, “Well, this will be a story!”
I was reminded that so much of life is like that. The unexpected can hit us at the most, well, unexpected and inconvenient times. We can either be frustrated and knocked off course, or we can roll with it and let God work in the midst.
And He always will, even when situations don’t go the way we planned or even the way we want. God can always make something good or interesting come out of it. He can turn even the most annoying inconvenience into an adventure!
We just have to be willing to ask Him, and then look for it. Like one of my favorite classic Disney characters, Pollyanna, said in a twist on an Abraham Lincoln quote: “If you’re looking for the good in something, you will always find it.”
Search for the Blessing
So, I’m learning to search for the benefit in the midst of the unwanted and unexpected situations. How will I be blessed in this situation? Where is the humor in this? One of my new mantras has been, “Ok, God, what are you going to do with this?” He might put a person in my path to bless me or, conversely, put me in someone else’s path to bless them; He might help me learn something. Sometimes, He just gives me a good story!
That’s what happened the day of the radio interference and car trouble. Since then, my friend and I have had several more opportunities to get together in more normal circumstances. But we still laugh about Sonic and the radio waves. Next time, I’ll tell you about the time I was hacking off plastic pieces of my car’s undercarriage with a used computer tool I found in my Goodwill box, or the time getting towed ended us up in an antique store at midnight. Oh, the tales we make!
What about you, grit and grace girl? Where has an unexpected circumstance turned into an unexpected joy in your life?
And in case you were wondering, the man at the dealership was right: When I held my keypad right next to the ignition, the car started as usual. I did ask my friend to stay until the engine was purring and I was driving away though, just in case!
If you’re looking for the good in something, you will always find it.
We can all take a cue from Joyell and strive to find the benefits in each unexpected situation. But for some of us, it’s difficult to focus on anything other than the struggle and the stress it induces. If that’s you, listen to Darlene and Julie’s tips on acknowledging the positives in this podcast episode: 4 Realistic Ways to Shift Your Mindset in 2020 – 115