I hate surprises!
I hate surprises
One fact about me: I hate surprises.
More than hating surprises, I hate surprise announcements in group settings! I feel so awkward and never know how to react. Honestly, my first reaction to any announcement is never overwhelming joy and excitement. I never feel like jumping up and down. Generally I feel like I have just been hit by a truck and my face probably looks a mixture of sea-sickness and a bunny in headlights. Living in a Facebook-email culture, being British and culturally emotionally reserved, I feel like I am not trained in face-to-face group announcements with people close to me, where everyone is looking at everyone else to see how they are reacting. They make me want to run far, far, far, far, away, not jump up and hug the person who has just made the announcement.
My very American, gets-to-practice-celebration-every-Thanksgiving-and-fourth-July-friend Shaun doesn’t understand. Apparently joy naturally rises for him, or perhaps he is well trained in gratitude and praise in the face of such things.
Here is what I think:
- We can’t change our automatic reactions to a situation.
- We can change what we do next.
Number two is where I need to do some work.
I want to be in a place where, when the shock of an announcement hits, my first reaction is not how awkward I feel looking like my whole body has been electrocuted, but rather ‘Ok, Anna, let’s be thankful! Thank you, God, for another life! Thank you, God, for another relationship! Thank you, God, for another opportunity for others to do X…’ I want that thanksgiving to overflow with faith and love for those giving the announcement and I want that to be so genuine that that forced smile on my face melts into a real one. I want to be able to hug the person making the announcement with genuine delight and share in their moment of happiness. I wish it came naturally, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t, so here is my action-plan: thanksgiving. And pro-active prayer.
My prayer today is Psalm 4:7:
Here is my personal elaboration on that prayer - you might like to pray it too:
Lord, when others have news worth celebrating, help me to give thanks immediately and rejoice with them.
When announcements come as a result of decisions that I’m not sure I agree with yet, because I haven’t even thought about it yet, let me still give thanks and rejoice with them.
When others announce positive things that are going to make my life more complicated or difficult, let my first response not be one of selfishness, but of faith. Let me still give thanks and rejoice with them.
When others don’t include me in their decisions and I feel forgotten or unappreciated, let me push those feelings aside and die to myself once again. Let me still give thanks and rejoice with them.
When others have a glimpse of your joy and excitement over news they have received or announcements they are wanting to make, let me feel a glimpse of that joy and excitement with them. Allow me to enter into the Godliness of the moment and meet with You and community in it.
Where the announcements bring disappointment and unexpected emotions in me, help me to push them aside long enough to share in the joy with others and trust that You and I can chat it out later. Let me not grow weary of doing good. Let me push into You.
Lord, fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.
Let’s put on joy together:
What is your automatic reaction to other people’s good news? (A colleague’s new job, a pregnancy, someone’s new relationship, vacation / moving plans…)
Make an action-plan now to prepare yourself to consciously choose to rejoice with others the next time you hear an announcement.
Enjoy practicing your post-surprise-announcement smile today! This is Day 12 of a 21 Day challenge to put on joy in practical ways. You can receive these posts by email by clicking to sign up here.