In college, I worked at a camp in North Carolina each summer, and in between each 2-week session all of the staff gets some time off. In between one of the sessions my friend Justin and I were talking about what we were gonna do that day, and I asked him if one of our other friends was going to join in with us as well. The friend responded to Justin that he wanted to come along, but didn’t want to “have to deal with trying to figure out plans or anything.” I annoyingly responded, “What, does he want the day to be served to him on a silver platter?”
This led me to think about how, in so many ways, we seek after this life that is nicely packaged and well planned. But this is not how life works. There are so many things in our life that we don’t have control over, and most of the time there’s nothing we can do about it. Life keeps us on our toes, constantly teaching us and challenging us to evolve, otherwise, we will become stagnant and uninspired.
We want life to be served to us neatly on a silver platter, but it doesn’t; it more often comes to us in some strange mixture of overflowing beef stew.
Back to that summer. A few weeks after my conversation with Justin, two of my friends from Florida came to visit all of us working at camp, so we all took the day off to go on an adventure and show our friends our favorite spots around the camp. We had this great plan, “We’ll go do this, and then eat here, and then go do this, and then eat here, and have dessert here, and it will be perfect” was essentially what we were saying. We were truly in pursuit of a day neatly served to us on a silver platter.
So all 9 of us set on our day. Our first stop was Catawba Falls. We got there and everything was going as well as it could have, we were having fun and enjoying the beautiful creation that God had blessed us with. We went to check out the top of the Upper Falls, which is around 60 feet high.
The next thing that happened changed everything.
One of our friends slipped into the stream at the top and went over the falls (again, it was 60 feet, and there were about 3 feet of water at the bottom). From there we would experience a complete change in what our plans were. Thankfully our friend is still alive but did suffer severe injuries to both feet and minor injuries to his lower back. It was 4 hours later when he was airlifted to the hospital, where my friends and I spent the rest of the day.
There is still much to be shared from this story, and what I described above is nowhere near a complete retelling. But when I look at this story and see it again in my mind, I see people in pursuit of the silver platter, and in so many ways we got the beef stew. We had all these wonderful plans, but life threw something different at us, and we learned and grew a lot more than we would have if everything went according to plan. You may think that the beef stew is something to avoid or fear, as it contains the unknown and risk of pain. Yet, we learn and grow the most when life is difficult and we are faced with conflict, as we sift through the friction.
It’s rare to grow when everything goes well. Will there be days served on a silver platter? Yes. Will there be days where we are served a heaping bowl of beef stew? Oh, there will be. There is goodness in both. We need both to round ourselves into the people we’re supposed to be. A comfortable and easy life won’t grow you or build your character. Don’t run from your fears or what’s difficult, be fully present in your life, whether it be positive or negative at the time.
Embrace life fully for what it is, control what you can control, and learn from everything.