Surprised by, “Now What?”

I’d say many of us don’t like surprises. Sure we may like the odd ‘happy’ surprise – a surprise party, a surprise package on the doorstep, or maybe, depending on your situation, a surprise pregnancy. But, all in all, there are a lot of surprises we encounter that aren’t ideal.

“Surprise! You’re day is ruined because you lost your keys,” Or,

“Surprise! I’m divorcing you.” Or even,

“Surprise! You’re being promoted and you’re not ready.”

Wanted or not, when these things happen, we often ask ‘why?’ or perhaps ‘why me?’ But what if instead, we asked ‘now what?’ That seemingly simple question holds a lot of weight and it can lead to a place of hidden treasures.

Before I explain, I want to share a story of when, not all that long ago, I found myself asking that very question – now what?

need future with frame

My Surprise

I’ve walked on hundreds of roofs, but only fallen off one. And landing on my feet, breaking my ankle, and losing consciousness for a few seconds wasn’t something I had planned for that day. In other words, I hadn’t set out that morning prepared for my life to be drastically changed.

This paint job was the last of the summer, and urgency was the message of the morning. The rain from the night before had turned the decades-old cedar shake roof into a moldy slip ‘n slide. Rather than immediately tell my crew to get off the roof for their safety, I said, ‘hey, why don’t you let me try?’ My deluded confidence was blind to the signs of reality.

As soon as I stepped on the roof and my foot slipped a bit, I said, ‘We’re going to wait till this dries out.’ But as I made to get off, a single shingle gave way under the strain of my weight. My legs kicked out, my rear slammed onto the roof and I began to slide. My body curled over the edge and dropped 10 feet onto concrete. I landed on my feet, but then I rolled and came to a standing position.

I took my first step with my right foot, but there was nothing to hold me up. I fell to the ground instantly and things went dark and quiet. When I came to, I knew my ankle was broken.

I was seized by a searing new reality that my story was changing drastically.

Choosing the ‘Now What?’

I didn’t see it coming. Who does, right? That’s what surprises are. They sneak up on you. They say, “I’ve got you and I’m taking you for a ride!”

It’s “We need to let you go” when you’ve been a loyal employee.

It’s “I want a divorce” coming from the person you’ve raised kids with for the last decade.

It’s “You have a tumor” when you eat healthy and exercise 6x a week.

It’s “I’m turning 48 and just waking up to the fact I hate my career and the life I’ve built,” but you have no idea what to do about it.

Before you could see a future, but now, the future is filled with uncertainty. Your vision is blurred by confusion, worry and fears. Life is not going to go as we thought it would.

What we’re really trying to understand is not the why, but the what. What does this mean for my life now?

… Now what?

I believe that by God’s design, surprises of every kind hold treasures, if we go find them. I’m convinced they can be found. When you ask, ‘Now what?’ you’re daring to look past the immediacy of the surprise and look beyond to what your future might hold in light of your circumstances.

I will expand on ‘now what?’, changes, and transitions in future posts, but for now, I want to ask you:

  • Are you on a glorious and grueling journey to your own “now what?”
  • How has the ‘why?’ kept you from facing the fear and potential of “now what?”
  • Have you been able to catch a glimpse of the treasures that may be awaiting you?
  • Do you know where to look?

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