To fight off a cougar all I have to do is jump around, wave my arms, flail my body about, and yell at the top of my lungs. I am good at that already because my dad taught my sisters and I to pull that stunt with any man who made us uncomfortable. A bear is the complete opposite. When you see a bear, freeze. If you can, walk slowly, backwards. Never turn your back to a bear. And if it starts to approach you, slowly drop to the ground and play dead. If it tries to eat you? They say roll up in a ball and guard your neck; I just say…good luck. Never eat orange berries. Or is it red? Maybe avoid berries and stick to bugs, but not bugs that have any red on them. Or is it orange? If you are on top of a mountain and a lightning storm hits try to hide inside of a rock structure or get in a terrain. And if an earthquake strikes get in the bathtub and away from glass. Actually, that may be a tornado.
Who knows? I am getting it all confused now. And the truth is, the closest I’ve gotten to an animal encounter or natural disaster is seeing a deer across the street and having the toilet overflow. Neither of which have tested my emergency wilderness preparedness skills that I have dutifully studied and trained for.
And isn’t that just how life goes?
We plan, we prepare, we read help books, how-to’s, and we spout off knowledge as if we know exactly what to do when the earthquake hits. But the truth is few things happen the way we plan for them to. The earthquake never hits, but a plague of African crickets descend out of nowhere.
Of course they do.
It would be just my luck to climb the mountain prepared to avoid animals and to encounter lightning and lava and instead find a heard of talking pigs. What would I do? What’s my next move? I am in the mountains, how could there possibly be pigs? Dangit, I have not prepared for TALKING PIGS, I am only ready for cougars and bears!
For a girl who enjoys a world that follows by the rulebooks, the talking pigs are severely out of place and not on my agenda. They complicate my system. They ruin my plans. And low and behold…they rob me of my ability to control the world around me. I am not sure how many times I have to have this little chat with God, but seriously, let me control things…I am brilliant, I promise. And, I have planned for the next move; surprises are not welcome.
Earth to control freaks of the world: life is about going with the flow. Expecting the unexpected. Welcoming the chaos. Figuring out plan B, C, D, and Z without mourning plan A for too long. It’s about release. It’s a little hard for me to imagine an uptight, control driven, rule following, punctual, watch-toting Jesus who gets really ticked at all the curve balls.
Curve balls are inherent. Control is fanciful. Plans are contingent.
I had my entire life figured out by age 7. I was going to be an entrepreneur and sale anything I could get my hands on, supplementing my income when necessary with Easy Bake oven cakes. I was going to be rich and own every Barbie outfit ever made. In middle school I decided I was going to be a voice animator for Disney and marry a boy named Herbie Rolph. 8th grade I decided I would be a board game maker. 9th grade, a professional cheerleader. 10th grade a lawyer. 11th, I was convinced I was going to Pepperdine University and living on the beach for the rest of my life. 12th grade I wanted to be dumped in Africa. College, I just wanted a good job that was “normal”…
Here I am today sitting in a coffee shop in Durango, Colorado. I have spent the last five nights in a row in a different hotel in a different city. I just met a lady who brought her 7-day-old child to a chiropractor for re-alignment and I have been surrounded by herbal taking, peace-loving hippies all morning. I am out of clean clothes. And am re wearing garments that should NEVER be re worn. I am eating cafeteria food and hanging out with 13-year-olds. And my job, at least for this week, is to have people sing, raise their hands and talk to a deity who is invisible to the earthly eye.
Normal? This is anything but normal…
But God gives me grace for each new, unexpected moment. And he humors me as I plan for all the moments that will never come to be.
I am in the wild and I am surviving. Not the wild I planned for, but it turns out, I can do a lot of things based on instinct. I can live without my contingency plans. I can go with the flow.
But dangit, if I ever run into a cougar, I am going to scare it to death.