Sunday, January 29, 2017

Life & Chocolate

Forrest Gump once sat on a bench in Chippewa Square. While the character is fictional and the bench is gone, the words that were spoken by him are long-lasting.
"My mama always said life was like a box chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
As I sat on a makeshift bench in the square holding only a box of tissues, I realized how this statement couldn't be closer to the truth. Almost indefinitely, things on the outside always look clean and perfect. But on the inside, you don't know what you're gonna find.

Think of it this way:
It's Wednesday. You are trying to get through a week that seems to be dragging on and on. You come home to a box of chocolates on the table. The thought of that box of chocolates brings about decadent joys and unexpected happiness. Maybe your box is purple with flowers on it or red with hearts, but whatever it is, it's your favorite color and pattern. It was gifted to you by someone who cares so much about you that they put careful detail into making sure it was exactly what you wanted. You sit at the table and open up the box. You notice that there is no flavor guide to be found, so you test your luck and go for the one that you are hoping is filled with caramel in the center. As you go in for that first bite, your mouth is watering and your tastebuds are jumping for joy. But then it hits you. You can't quite place the taste, but your senses are overwhelmed with raisins, rum and dark chocolate. Bitterness burns through your body. Even though you hoped with all your might that you were going to get that perfect caramel chocolate, you didn't. And even though you knew that it was testing your luck to take a bite into a mysterious piece, you did it anyways. Because hypothetically, you've had a rough day and there isn't anything else that could go wrong. Logically, you know that that couldn't be further from the truth, but your brain tricks you into believing that the bad, the yucky, the unfortunate are over.

So as I am sitting in Chippewa Square, holding only my box of tissues, I reflect on the words of Forrest Gump. Most importantly, I reflect on the weekend I've had and the unexpected twists and turns that it took. Then I reflect on my life. The piles of bad that have building and building that I have striven to find a blessing in have hit an all time high. And then I begin to think: my life is just like that box of chocolates that are so famously referred to. As a matter of fact, everyone has a life that is a box of chocolates. For some people, they are fortunate enough to bite into that decadent piece of caramel chocolate after a dreary day, but for many others, myself included, the bite is into bitterness.

I reflect on my Florida trip and I see it is a blessing. While I still don't understand why I was hours and miles away from my family, I know that I was surrounded by a completely different type of family. For me, it's kind of funny to look at how everything unfolded. I always knew I would be the one to find my dad or be the one sitting with him in the hospital room when he took his last breath or be the first one to know because I was the emergency contact. I knew that without a doubt. And I had a plan for each scenario. I knew exactly who I would call and in what order. I knew who was going to drive me if I was on campus or at home or the store. I knew how I would respond and everything that would be done. Except I wasn't the one to find him, Hope was. I wasn't the one there when he took his last breath, the angels were. I wasn't the first one to know, Erica and Alan were. I didn't call anyone to come pick me up and drive me anywhere. I didn't do anything on my list in any order that I had planned. And that is a God thing.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Instead, I looked down at my phone to numerous missed phone calls and texts and my gut knew. But my brain couldn't process. When I walked back into a room full of what was a handful of close friends and a plethora of strangers, I was greeted with open arms. No words were uttered out of my mouth. It was the people who truly knew my heart that read the expression on my face and knew. Yet, when I walked out of dinner that night, I gained a plethora of new family members.

When I got on an airplane that Friday morning, I was beyond excited to see my friends from Georgia. Everyone knew it. I ran to them with open arms when I saw them for the first time in months. My backpack slammed to the ground, my body sprinted and somewhere in between, my phone went down. I was filled with joy. At the beginning of my trip, my box of chocolates was full of caramel. In my mind, there was absolutely nothing that could take away each precious moment shared with my best friends. Dad was healthy, he was on the up. There was nothing to worry about. But that evening, when I went for a piece of chocolate, it was bitter. But it was bittersweet. Because those who surrounded me and prayed over me covered my sorrow-filled heart with a drizzle of caramel. And as the trip continued, they drizzled and drizzled and drizzled.
And by the last hours, as I was sitting on that makeshift bench with a box of tissues, I finally understood Forrest Gump.
I didn't go on that trip thinking I was going to get a piece of chocolate filled with raisins, rum and dark chocolate. I didn't think that cat-dog would contain a single member of my support system when it happened. I honestly thought that after the years of gross chocolates, my box was only full of good, even if only for a little bit. But the Lord always takes our plans and reminds us that He is in control.

I am so grateful for each person who drizzled caramel on my heart while I was in Florida. Because now that I look at my box, even though I don't know what I am going to get in its entirety when I pick up the next piece of chocolate, I know that I am going to get a drizzle of caramel with every piece. My box will never be pure and full of only caramel. No one's box ever will be. But maybe now, just maybe, we are truly on the up. While the grieving and healing are indescribable, the little joys are not.

I can't explain in words how much it means to me that I am being covered, not only by the good Lord, but my family and even more so, my friends. This year started in a way that I would have never imagined, but it is only the beginning.

I am a new person; each of us are new people after my dad's passing. But the new me is a jar full of hope and a bottle of caramel. I strive to pour into other's boxes of chocolates as they have poured into mine. There is absolutely no way of knowing what you are going to bite into, but know that I have drizzled a little bit of caramel on the tops of each piece in your box so that in the bad, the ugly, the unexplainable, there is some sweet, some happiness, some joy.
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! Luke 1:45 
So do not fear, of I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Phillipians 4:11 
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 12:25

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