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Childhood reflections with a touch of grace: Beware of elephants in tights

My parents were not big on birthday parties, especially sleepovers. The one sleepover birthday bash I had was enough to last me a lifetime.

Anticipation had been building for days and I had invited several of my closest friends over to celebrate my big day. We spent the first afternoon playing board games and football. We topped off the evening by staying up well past the entire neighborhood's bedtime. I wouldn't have slept anyway while dreaming about the cake and presents that were coming my way the following day.

Finally, the time came for some good ole wrapping paper demolition and I was up to the task. As my eyes beheld the first gift, my heart sank into my sneakers. It was a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. I may have failed to mention that I despise puzzles and model cars. They require patience and dexterity, the two things most lacking from my arsenal of greatness. Plus, the glue that came with the model cars had a pungent odor, that upon sniffing, caused me to see pink elephants in baby blue tutus and tights, doing somersaults across my bedroom.

I was sure the next gift would be an improvement, but I was wrong, because it was a model car that came with extra glue, which meant I was likely to be seeing an entire zoo of animals doing things I couldn't explain before the engine was even assembled. I smiled politely while secretly forming some of my first curse words in my thoughts.

Trying to remain positive, I opened my remaining presents, all of which were either model cars or jigsaw puzzles. I was emotionally spent throughout the remainder of my party as I tried to figure out why God and the universe wanted to ruin my expectations.

As it turned out, it was my expectations that ruined my party. Had I been more aware of the trick my emotions were playing on me, I would have continued enjoying all of the other aspects of my birthday bash that went off without a hitch. The cake was amazing and my friends helped me to have tons of fun, doing lots of things that didn't involve inhaling toxic fumes or staring at puzzle pieces that I remain convinced were identical.

Expectations should always be regarded loosely, since we don't always get what we want or even know what's best for us. Placing too much emphasis on unknown outcomes is a real party pooper. It's better to save our hopes and dreams for things that are steadfast.

My childhood party is a good reminder that only the established plans of God are a sure bet in our earthly affairs. His plans for us have precedence over our weak-minded whims that are primarily selfish in nature. He takes delight in charting our course on the path that fulfills our deepest desires; the ones we were created for.

This doesn't mean we won't endure suffering or hardships, but we can rest assured that He will make all the pieces of our sometimes puzzling lives fit and we won't have to dance with those pesky pink elephants to get there. Just loosen the grip on your expectations, set your hope on Him and enjoy the party.

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