One thing I’ve been discovering lately is the role of unintended consequences in my own life.
Leif and I talk about this often.
He tends to look at people and think that if someone makes a decision, then it’s their responsibility to live with the consequences. While I think there’s some real truth in that idea, I also see many people who, if they knew the full breadth of the consequences, they would have made a different decision.
These are the unintended consequences of our decisions—and they happen in my life and to everyone I know.
I have to make dozens of decisions everyday and while I can predict a percentage of the outcomes with certainty, the reality is there are all kinds of outcomes that are simply unintended.
Some good. Some bad.
A while back, I realized that I desperately needed a prescription filled twenty minutes before the pharmacy closed.
Since the drive took about that long, I knew I didn’t have a minute to spare. I raced to the pharmacy and called in the refill on the way. Pulling into a spot, I foolishly miscalculated the distance between my vehicle and the one next to me and dented the bumper. Afraid to move the vehicle and cause greater damage, I jumped out and ran to the pharmacy—the much needed prescription still on my mind. After paying for the prescription, I hustled back outside where I discovered a less-than-happy driver of the other vehicle examining the damage.
I explained the situation, begged for her forgiveness, and promised to pay all damages. The middle-aged woman was slightly aghast at what had happened and for good reason:
She had just purchased the vehicle, her first brand new car, the day before.
I could not grovel enough.
When the repair bill arrived, I quickly delivered the check and a copy of my latest book to her with a sincere letter of apology.
To my surprise, I received a thank you note that said, “If anyone could have hit my car, I’m glad it was you.”
What do you do with that?
When I think back over the events, I find myself second guessing where I went wrong and where I went right. If I had paid more attention to the prescription bottle’s contents, I would not have had to rush to the pharmacy which led to the miscalculation in parking which resulted in the accident which led to a difficult day for someone else which miraculously turned around into being a somewhat good or at least not terrible experience for someone else.
The experience of filling a prescription is laced with all kinds of unintended consequences. Then again, most of our experiences are filled with them.
We plan for A and get B or D or Z.
We hope for A and get C or F or lots of Y’s.
We pray for A and wonder if our prayers were heard at all.
Even in our sharpest plans, our solid hopes and our steady prayers, we face the reality of unintended consequences. So how do we deal?
By embracing grace and remembering that despite unintended consequences, God can redeem it all.
By expressing grace to others, and reminding them that sometimes things just happen as a result of unintended consequences. And in the process of embracing and expressing grace, we need to remember to laugh, giggle, and remember that this too, will pass.
My friend, Lysa TerKeurst wrote about the idea of making the best decisions in her latest book, The Best Yes.
She wrote it because she's tired of rushing and stressing and missing out on the sweet parts of life. You see, rushing robs us of the parts of life that feed our soul. When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul. Lysa's just tired of that deep ache. Maybe you are too?
Instead of constantly dreading saying yes and feeling powerless to say no, there’s another option.
And that is to ask, “What is my Best Yes in this?”
In The Best Yes, you’ll discover how to:
- Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
- Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
- Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom-based decision-making process.
- Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.
This post is part of “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.
Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But in the midst of everyday “growth opportunities,” she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.