When there is an unexpected plot twist

I had coffee with an old friend.  We hadn't had the chance to catch up in awhile and I always enjoy talking with him.

A lot had happened in his life—both wonderful and difficult—since we had last connected.

It occurs to me that the thing we grapple with the most is when the story we are living has a plot twist.  The pain that blindsides us is the most difficult to process.

While all pain is hard, surprise makes it that much harder.

The sudden death.
The abrupt divorce.
The unforeseen diagnosis.
The unexpected betrayal.
That split-second decision we made that cost someone else.

No matter where the pain comes from, if the delivery method is swift without foreshadowing, we feel unsafe.

We think we are living one story; then suddenly we are living another. Accepting the parts of our story we wish were different costs us our idea of the way things should be.

Just now, when I typed that sentence, it felt too obvious, so I started researching the word acceptance. Wikipedia returned a small stroke of brilliance: 

Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest. The concept is close in meaning to 'acquiescence', derived from the Latin 'acquiēscere' (to find rest in).

Is it really possible to find rest in the painful plot twists that we all experience?  I've always hated the word acquiescence. It feels too much like resignation. Like giving up. 

And yet, I am reminded of Lily Tomlin's quip, "Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

What if there has to be some giving up in order to live with what's real? That looks a lot like surrender.

We hate surrender. It feels weak.

Spencer Burke once said, "God's strength is made perfect in weakness. And we hate weakness."

There is nothing like surrender to make us feel dependent. Painful plot twists yank us out of our areas of strength and cause us to discover other parts of ourselves. Like switching from running every day to swimming every day, we aren't good at it until we build the new muscle memory.

The thing we forget about plot twists is that the plot is not the point of the story.  In literature, the plot is just the device that creates character development. What if that is the same in real life? Plot twists in their suddenness force transformation.  We choose how we respond. Which isn't only about who we are, but in choosing, who we are becoming.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall