And what would you say you’re learning, thinking about, now? She asks, her voice the gentle, bright lilt I’ve grown accustomed to in the weeks since school began. We’re gathered, there in the lounge. Fifteen girls strong, and I’ve just finished telling the story of my life, tracking movements of the world, of my days, of God’s grace and sovereignty, through the events that string together to form my life.

I’ve finished now, and she’s sitting there on the couch next to me, and she asks and I smile, nod; it’s one thing to tell the past, but it’s another to learn from the present, and I had a feeling she would ask.

I pause, just for a moment. My eyes settle on the apple cider- now cold- that swirls in the cup in my hands, and I catch the gaze of the girls sitting around this warm circle as I look up at her once more.

Unexpected, I tell her. Then, as if reminding myself, agreeing with my own statement, I say it again, feeling myself nod, ever so slightly.

It’s been a semester of the unexpected, I say.

I didn’t expect for my classes to be so very time consuming, didn’t expect weekends of budgeting time by the hour, and daily checklists, and the all-too-familiar breath-holding rush of finishing an assignment twelve minutes before it’s due.

I didn’t expect late nights sitting in the hallway, typing study questions, class notes, essays, to the soundtrack of a squeaky bathroom door, under the glow of a too-white overhead light that never turns off.

There’s something unexpected about my friendships, too; something awe-striking, wonderful about the hearts I live with, eat with, study with, talk with. I’ve wanted, worked for, enjoyed, relished friendships this semester like I never have before. The God who created my heart also holds my heart, my life moving in the direction He leads, and I’ve watched, marveling at His hand, as friendships both old and new have grown on this downtown campus. It’s a privilege, a blessing, I say, to be able to grow with, laugh with, share life with the souls I’m surrounded by, here at this school.

Unexpected challenges, unsolicited blessings. And every time I pause in awe at a wonderful relationship I didn’t ask for; or stop to reflect upon the ways I have grown, been stretched, pulled outside of myself and my desires and my worries and my weakness; or step into my room after a long day of classes and studying and conversations and learning; every time I take a moment to sit, to be still, to recount the unexpected ways of this semester, I’m so thankful.

Thankful and awed, because in every new thing, and in every old thing made new, in every challenge and blessing and gift and lesson, God is working to weave threads that I did not know existed into a brilliant tapestry. He brings the moments that are small and the conversations that are short and the challenges that are many, and together, they make a whole: one account of my life, just as I told those sweet girls. But it is not just my life; this is the story of His plan and His wonder and His grace.

And the unexpecteds in my life are the certainties in His plan, and so I trust and I follow, and many days, I savor these unexpected wonders.



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