I have a love-hate relationship with roller coasters. I love the spins and swoops and even the upside down loops that comprise the whole crazy scream-fest. But I hate, hate, hate that s-l-o-w climb to the top, because I know what that means, and my heart starts pounding in anticipation. Closing my eyes doesn’t help, either, because I know what’s coming. The moment we hit the crest of the hill, I’ll find myself looking straight down at the ground as my stomach does a terrifying freefall, generally arriving 30 seconds before the rest of me does.

Life's Unexpected Turns

Life’s Unexpected Turns

Despite all that, I love roller coasters. I enjoy the controlled terror. As long as everything works as it’s supposed to, it’s a pretty safe risk.

Life, though, is a lot more disorganized and unpredictable. It doesn’t come with tracks and harnesses that keep everything nice and tidy and safe. Just when you think it’s going to zig, it takes a sharp zag and you’re left gaping at the scene in front of you, thinking, “Wow. Didn’t expect that.”

How do we react then? How do we handle life’s unexpected turns?

Sometimes, all we can do is grip the safety bar and hang on tight, trusting God has his hand on the controls.

At other times, it means we’ve been plunked down at a fork in the road and we have to make a choice: left turn or right? Stay the course or make a change?

And sometimes, the new situation we’ve stumbled across is a pile of yuck and the only control we have is over our attitude. Are we going to scream and stomp? Or dive in and make it better? Endure with grace? Or complain and moan?

Some days, we may do all of the above within a 30-minute interval.

So here’s where irony shows up. This morning, I got up and let Doggie out and then back in while I finished up this blog post. Just as I hit the “publish” button, my website hit a snag and an awful stench invaded my office. As the error signal flashed on my screen, I looked up and realized Doggie had dumped a load right outside my office door.

Talk about an opportunity to practice what I preach! I cleaned up, notified the powers that be, and went for a bike ride. And laughed.

It was a good reminder that when life takes a sharp, unexpected turn, take a minute to stop and think, to decide next steps before you run screaming for the exit. The time it takes to breathe deeply and cut through the panic is never wasted. It gives us time to decide how to act, rather than simply reacting.

And this morning notwithstanding, sometimes, those unexpected swoops can lead to  amazing surprises!

What about you? How do you react when life suddenly zigs when you were planning to zag? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.