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Life's surprises can be the some of the greatest things that happen to us

Judson Edwards Special to the American-Statesman
Judson Edwards is a writer who lives in Cedar Park.

I’ve never been a “cat person.”

Our family didn’t have cats when I was growing up, so I never gave cats much thought. But about five years ago, my wife and I were sitting in our backyard when we noticed a cat sleeping on a child’s playscape we have in the yard. The cat started showing up every day, we noticed, and eventually crept over to us. We petted her and thought little of it.

But then we fed her. Then she got hurt and needed to be nursed back to health. Then she started coming into the house. And, then, to make a long story short, she became part of the family. We named her “Marty” and learned from the neighbors that she was a feral cat who used to belong to some people who moved and chose not to take Marty with them.

For five years now, though, Marty has been a beloved member of our household. She sleeps at the foot of our bed, rests in my lap as I read the paper every morning, and nestles on the couch with my wife to watch TV at night. Last month, when I got a bad cough and had to move to another bedroom so as not to keep my wife awake, Marty moved with me — to give me company and comfort in my time of need.

The other night when the three of us were in our assigned places watching television, I asked my wife, “Who would have ever thought that we would have a cat?” “Not me,” she said. “Me either,” I replied. Marty is an unexpected, unplanned part of our lives — and we would miss her terribly should she ever leave us.

She has made me think, though, of how many other unexpected, unplanned serendipities I have experienced in my life. My life is filled with people I never thought would become my friends, books I never expected would change my life, experiences I never thought would be so enriching, and beliefs I never thought would capture my allegiance.

Garth Brooks once had a country song with the line, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” I have come to believe that Brooks might be on to something there. We think we know what we need and exactly how our lives are going to unfold, but typically that doesn’t happen.

Life inevitably throws us some unexpected curve balls — some good and some bad. But we wake up one morning and realize our plan A is not happening, that we are setting sail on some uncharted plan B.

We have good reason to grieve when that Plan B is one of those bad curve balls. Life is often unfair, and, like Job in the Old Testament, we wonder why God would allow such curve balls to be thrown at us. But let’s at least acknowledge the presence of those good curve balls, too. Some of the best things that have happened to us have been those delightful serendipities that we never would have chosen or expected.

The Christian novelist and apologist C. S. Lewis titled his autobiography, "Surprised by Joy." That’s what happens to many of us. We not only get surprised by joy; we get surprised by the serendipities that bring us that joy.

Cats. People. Experiences. Songs. Books. They all sneak up on us — and bless our lives in ways we never saw coming.

Judson Edwards is the author of twelve books and lives in Cedar Park.