Last week Kim and I enjoyed a much-needed date night. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant and wanted to see a movie. 500 Days of Summer and Funny Peoplewere at the top of our list, but we couldn’t decide which we’d rather see. I suggested that we flip a coin and let fate choose for us. So that’s what we did.
I kid you not, the first flip attempt resulted in the penny landing on edge in a sidewalk crack. We had neither a head nor a tail, but an…edge. It appeared that not even Chance could make up her mind.
The second try landed on tails, which meant we’d spend the next two hours watching 500 Days of Summer. We loved it.
And amazingly, the movie turned out to be about chance, fate, and destiny. Go figure.
Talk of destiny elicits different responses in people. Some think we create our own destiny and spend their time working hard to turn dreams into reality. Others speak as if we are all on some inevitable crash course with a predestined future, despite our best intentions. I believe one extreme puts too much emphasis on us, and the other extreme not quite enough.
Each of us is responsible for our own actions, and those actions matter. We all have some power to shape the future. However, sometimes we can work so hard at a certain goal that we become incapable of embracing alternative outcomes, even if they might be better than our wildest imagination. You just can’t ignore the moments that come outside of our own prompting — those moments that change our life forever:
- The stranger who sits next to you on the bus, starting up a conversation.
- The history professor that just happened to be teaching the course you needed to graduate.
- The decision to call in sick the day the planes hit the Towers.
I remember when I was in college, head over heels in love with a girl. I thought she was the one. She did, too.
Until she didn’t.
But I didn’t give up. This was something I was so sure of that I was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. I was creative, romantic, persistent. I was in the middle of my own romantic comedy, fully expecting the boy to get the girl in the end.
Except I didn’t.
In my pursuit of my one true love, I agreed to go Christmas caroling with a group of shared friends. Mind you, I have no aptitude for singing, nor was I in a very charitable mood. But this seemed like the perfect stage for the underdog to prevail and I was eager to write the ending to this Hollywood script. I had no doubt in my mind that my future spouse would be there. No one could convince me otherwise.
And she was. She just wasn’t who I thought she was.
I met Kim on a night I was busy chasing someone else. Her bubbly personality and warm, happy spirit was enough to get my attention and derail me from my mission. The seeds of friendship and romance were planted that night and it turned out that my Hollywood movie had a surprise ending.
I often wonder about what my life would look like if Kim had decided to stay home that night. Or if she hadn’t been invited in the first place. Or if the mutual friend who introduced us had gone to a different school than me, like many of her siblings did. It goes on and on, as I marvel at the coincidences that were beyond my control.
Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.
So here are a few things to think about:
1) If you are in a spot where you can’t make a decision on something, whether it’s a big issue or a trivial one, just let go. If you’ve spent time weighing the options and both seem equally viable, flip a coin. Let Chance have her say and enjoy the ride. It can be a lot of fun, and you’ll be surprised at how it works out.
2) If you are in a spot in which you’re trying to get somewhere or accomplish something but seem to be banging your head against the wall, again, just let go. Maybe something is happening in your life that you didn’t expect. Maybe your best laid plans are going up in smoke with no hope in sight. Don’t be afraid. Put your disappointment to the side for a bit, and consider the possibility that something better is just around the corner.
God might be ready to deliver a coincidence.
You never know, you might be about to experience a surprise ending you never saw coming.
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