When Life Hands Us the Unexpected

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself repeating the phrase “not what we expected” regarding my husband’s recovery from surgery. The surgery went fine and produced the desired results, but issues unrelated to surgery find us saying, “This is not what we expected!”

We all have expectations. Some are realistic; others aren’t. Have you reached a point where what you expected doesn’t line up with reality?

Following are some thoughts on expectations:

Managing Emotions and the Unexpected

Although we know life is full of unexpected twists and turns, we’re still surprised when the unexpected arises. When we have warning of potential complications, we can brace ourselves. But when the unexpected erupts, emotions go into overdrive.

In the last few weeks, I’ve experienced frustration, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. I’ve questioned decisions and wondered about improvement. I’ve learned the more we allow emotions to rule, the less likely we are to gain an accurate perspective. When dealing with the unexpected, remember you can’t see beyond the immediate when emotions are driving the train.

We Aren’t in Control

Realizing and accepting we can’t control life situations and events is challenging, especially for those who are organized and regimented. I’m not advocating letting life hit you, at will, without responding. Rather, control what you can, but accept your lack of control without falling apart. We can never accurately predict what lies ahead, but we can determine to maintain forward motion despite the unexpected.

Navigating Expectations

Sometimes, our expectations run in a negative trajectory. Perhaps recent or past history spirals your expectations downward, or your mindset tends toward lower expectations. Whatever the cause, avoid falling into a pattern of negativity that leads you to project worst-case scenarios.

Alternately, over-expecting leads to disappointment. Remember, expectations should be practical, doable, and realistic. Do you expect more from yourself, and others, than is reasonable? And are you willing to put forth the necessary effort to accomplish what you expect? These are questions you need to ask and answer.

Responding to the Unexpected

This morning, I learned of the sudden death of a friend’s husband. Although he recently had surgery, he was doing well, until the unexpected occurred. Now, she faces grief, questioning, responding, and recovering from this life tragedy.

If we could somehow steel ourselves for the unexpected, our responses might be more predictable. However, of course, this is impossible. The very nature of the unexpected is surprise, and most of us don’t react well to events that come without warning.

So how should we respond?

Take what has happened or is happening one step at a time. Keep your eyes ahead while dealing with what requires your attention now. Ask God to help you navigate the uncertainty and frustration. Request prayer and pray yourself for all elements of the situation. Find your place of refreshment. Rejoice in moments of peace and give thanks for improvement or stability.

In time, your expectations will adjust, and you will move beyond the unexpected.

“My soul is quiet and waits for God alone. My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and the One Who saves me. He is my strong place. I will not be shaken. My being safe and my honor rest with God. My safe place is in God, the rock of my strength” (Psalm 62: 5-7 NLV).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.




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