As I enter into this new year, I can’t help but to reminiscence on the past year. I have heard it said that you can’t really move forward until you look back. I believe there is a lot of truth to that saying. So often we get caught up in the future that we fail to look at the past.
For me, this past year was unpredictable. From changing churches to a new relationship to a life changing trip to even a broken water heater. Yes, this year had it’s share of surprises, good and bad. I will be the first to admit that I am not one who likes uncertainty or the unknown. I am a planner, but there are some things in life for which we cannot plan.
Even with all these unpredictable events, there was one things about them that was not a surprise. The fact that something unexpected happened. Life is filled with unpredictable events, but I have learned over the years that these surprises are not all necessarily bad. In fact, that is exactly why I started this blog, to find the good in life’s unpredictable moments. Sometimes it is easy to make lemonade out of the lemons that life throws at us, and at other times, it takes quite a bit longer to figure out how to make the lemonade.
Looking back, there is one particular time in my life that this was true, and if I am honest, it was the beginning of my journey in realizing the beauty in the unpredictability of life. This story goes back to the summer after my junior year in college. I had moved up to Minnesota for the summer for an internship at 3M, a dream job for a polymer engineer like me. One Sunday afternoon a coworker and I went for a bike ride, but we didn’t get far. A mile or so into the ride, we came up on a red light. I started to put on my brakes when my fear of running into the back of my coworker caused me to put on the brakes a bit too hard. I went flying over the handlebars and landed on the pavement. Needless to say, I guess I didn’t pay attention in physics when we learned about Newton’s first law of motion. The bike stopped and I continued moving forward until I hit the ground. Next, a ambulance was called’ and I was carted off to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, the doctors took x-rays and determined that I had broken not one but both of my elbows. Yes, you read that right. I broke both elbows at the same time.
As you can imagine, there was a lot running through my mind at this point. I began to cry when I heard the news. I wasn’t crying because I was in pain, but because I knew that I would have to quit my internship and go back home to Georgia. I finally called my parents and told them the news. My mom flew up the next morning to be there when I had surgery on one of the elbows to repair the bone. This was not how I saw my summer going, but I had to figure out a way to deal with it. Both of my elbows were in temporary cast at 90 degree angles and I could not move either them. I could hardly do anything for myself and my independent self did not like that one bit. As you could imagine, it was a tough few weeks. I was so glad that my mom flew up to be with me though. She helped me to do everything from eating to doing my make-up. Needless to say, it was a very humbling experience.
Finally Mom packed up my car and drove me back to Georgia. On our way back, I got an email from one of my roommates that said she had decided to live off campus and would not be rooming with us next year. Typical me would have immediately begun emailing all of the potential girls I knew in order to prevent us from getting a random roommate, but I didn’t. Instead, I sent my other two roommates an email and said let’s go with a random roommate and not worry about finding one. They agreed with me and we decided to let God decide who our new roommate would be. In a moment when I should have felt the need to control things, I didn’t. Not because I suddenly was able to let go of control, but because I had too many other things to deal with at the time.
Skip forward a few months, my elbows had healed and my roommates and I moved into our apartment and meet our new roommate, a charming girl from Pakistan. She was not someone that I would have necessarily meet had we not been roommates, but that is what makes this story so good. As the semester went on, our new roommate and us started to become close. We shared laughter over inside jokes, frustration over classes, and cried over broken relationships. We truly lived life together. We came from such different backgrounds, yet learning from each other is what brought us close together. When I think about those days, I can’t help but to remember what started it all. The decision I made after breaking my elbows to just let go. I let go of control and let God work. I would have never meet that charming girl from Pakistan and even more so I would have missed out on making a life long friend.
So that may have been a long story to get to a short point, but it is a story that has shaped my life. Had it not been for that infamous day and two broken elbows, I would have never meet my new roommate or learned such a valuable life lesson. As I go into this next year, I don’t know what is going to happen, but I am choosing to let God have control. I have found from my past experiences that in those times when I let God dictate my path, the outcome is always something even greater than I could have ever imagined. So cheers to letting go and welcoming the unpredictable in life.
P.S. I did finally get back on a bike and rode one this year for the first time since the accident. And this time there were no broken elbows!