Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Discipline of Surprise
It probably comes as no shock to those of my readers who really know me that I hate surprises. I cajole my husband to open at least one Christmas gift early each year. I want to know what happens next in life. I have a plan, a dream, a goal, a vision, and I work toward it. It is comforting to know that I will not be smacked in the face with something unexpected because if I am expecting something, even if it is something negative, I have at least prepared myself for the impact, I have braced myself for the hurt or embarrassment or discomfort, and I have at least considered one or two helpful responses to whatever the thing is. But surprises are ridiculous. They have a way of showing up in your life unannounced, with no preparation, no explanation. There they are, plopped right in the middle of my ordered world, just to confound me, to throw me off my otherwise predictable course. What is it about the unexpected that gets me so worked up? I have tried so often to get to the root of my phobia, but I can't really come up with a suitable explanation. I think it's because in knowing everything I can about everything that will happen, I am hoping to create some sort of barrier against the surprises that cause trouble and giving myself an extra time of celebration for the would-be surprises that induce joy. Particularly, this latter category has dominated my thoughts lately--let's say for the last 32 weeks. With only 8 weeks to go of pregnancy, this pact that the hubs and I have for not knowing the gender is driving me positively mad. I must know. I must. You just don't understand. I have tried all sorts of reasoning techniques...I must know because it will help us to plan for the baby (there really isn't much selection in the gender neutral department, because let's face it, none of us are actually content to be surprised about anything anymore). I must know because it will help me bond with the baby--knowing whether I am talking to a baby boy or baby girl. I must know because it's like carrying around this tremendous gift for 10 months without even peeling back the wrapping paper to get a sneak peek. I must know because everyone else in my life wants to know--they won't stop asking me until I do know. Lame excuses, I know, but I have done my best to support these as my banners for pre-knowledge. I think what it really is that drives me up the wall with this scenario is the discipline part of it. Let me be totally honest and say that we had this pact 2 years ago when expecting our first child, and I cheated. I made it to the end of the ultrasound and sent the husband out of the room so the technician could tell me the gender. I couldn't take the discipline of waiting. So, this time around, I thought I would give it another go, see how the old school way worked out. But it's the discipline that's so hard. To have the ability to do something but to choose not to do it. That works in most areas of my life, but there are some places, I'll admit, that I choose to do something I have promised someone I would not....nothing huge, just the occasional new pair of shoes I shouldn't spend money on or the across-town trip to the burrito place I shouldn't make. When it comes to discipline, though, does it really matter if it is a big or small breach of discipline? Luke 16:10 says: "If you're honest in small things,
you'll be honest in big things." (The Message) I write this as I anxiously await an ultrasound this afternoon, a very big temptation to be faithful (or not) in the small things. Looking to God to help me be disciplined so that I might experience a joyful surprise.