Opinions

Joy In The Unpredictable

I’m an overthinker who is hyper-aware of her own personality. I’m in tune with all of my little quirks, and I know exactly what makes me tick. I like morning routines and color-coding my school supplies. I function best when my bed is made and my hair is parted in a straight line. I live in a constant state of straightening up and sorting out, to ensure that my days operate on a tight schedule.

But I’m not naïve. I know that life is incredibly unpredictable. On a daily basis I am confronted with small, unexpected moments—the pang in my stomach when I realize I’ve forgotten an assignment. In little moments like these, I can handle the degree of unpredictability. I bump some things around in my schedule and make everything work. But sometimes, bigger things happen. Sometimes crises arise out of the blue, and everything we once thought was good and stable is suddenly knocked off balance.

Just a few weeks ago, I was struck by one of those unexpected incidents. A relationship I had thought was safe and reliable was shown to me in a new light. I had been fooled by someone I trusted, which led to a nasty falling-out. So much of my life was planned around this relationship, and for everything to come to such an unforeseen end left me heartsick and unbalanced. It felt like riding a seesaw in elementary school, when the person on the other end decides to hop off. With no warning, you go from bouncing rhythmically with your playground friend to plummeting into the splintery mulch.

In a state of instability, I clung to my routines more than ever, but I was so badly broken that all I wanted was to stop. I needed a break from all of my precision and order. I needed a revolution to shake up my life in the best way possible. I craved novelty and exhilaration, and I started daydreaming about all the things I could do with this newfound sense of freedom.

But, you know, being the systematic person that I am, the last thing I really wanted was another disturbance. After a week of just barely getting by, a little thought fluttered through the clouds of my daydream.

“Go to Wednesday Night Worship,” the thought said.

“No,” I snapped. “It’s too late. It won’t be over until midnight.”

“Just go,” it whispered. “It’ll be good for you.”

“I don’t know, I just—”

“Go!”

That night, I attended Wednesday Night Worship for only the second time in my three years at Eastern. I was anxious about going, especially when I still had homework to do, but something in my gut assured me that my time wouldn’t be wasted. And while the band was wonderful and the songs were some of my favorites, I didn’t have one of those awestruck moments. There was a peace about my time worshipping, yes, but I still felt unfulfilled. At the end of the night, I stood in the middle of Gough Great Room, squeezed my eyes shut tight, and prayed for some relief.

It was midnight when I starting walking back to my dorm that night. There was a light rain, and I pulled my hood up over my head. I strode the path alongside Gallup, the gravel crunching under my clunky rain boots. I spotted a big puddle up ahead, and I thought of all the ways I could avert it. I’d leap over it like a ballerina. I’d tiptoe to the side of it. I’d hopscotch around it. Even while I mapped out all the ways to avoid it, my feet marched directly through that puddle at full speed. As my boots broke the tension of the water, my laughter harmonized with the pitter-patter of the puddles. For the remainder of my walk, I danced into every puddle and smiled at the applause of the tiny splashes.

That night wasn’t about community in Gough Great Room. I didn’t need acoustic guitars or twinkling lights in a dimly lit room to find time for God. I needed time alone—time that I hadn’t already filled with my own plans. Whoever had convinced me that routines were the source of prosperity had clearly never taken a misty midnight walk. I lifted my face up to the navy sky and felt the rain of a hundred kisses on my cold cheeks.

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