How Do You Respond To The Unexpected? (A Camera Story)

I love taking pictures.

And editing them.

And sharing them.

I’ve always fancied that I could be a pretty descent hobby photographer if given the chance. Due to equipment issues, however, my theory has gone basically untested.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for all the cameras I’ve owned, and I’ve been able to capture lots of memories. Still, the fact remains that the line-up of point-n-shoots I’ve had over the years would thwart even a professional’s attempts to turn out a really great image.

Since I’m the only one around here who derives much pleasure from picture-taking, and none of the three fellas in my household are exceptionally thrilled about being models…well, I’ve just been too cheap to spend money on something more.

Enter wonderful husband.

He started getting on me about putting aside money for a real camera about three years ago. Then, recently, when he had the opportunity to earn some extra income, he insisted I use it to buy the DSLR of my choice!

I was so excited. I researched and began to flirt with the Nikon D7000. Afraid to rush into things too quickly, I went to a camera shop to hold one and ask questions about it.  And then I knew. I was ready to commit. I found a factory refurbished D7000 online and ordered it.

When it was delivered to my door just over a week later, I may have crossed a line or two of appropriateness with the FedEx man. In my enthusiasm, I neglected to make it clear whether my exultation was due to the contents of the box in his hands or his presence on my threshold.

One of my favorite shots so far with the new camera: My husband and son being goofy at an end of the summer capture the flag youth event.

No matter.

I’m sure he figured it out when I slammed the door on him and ran inside to find a suitable location to open my treasure.

It was perfect.

I turned it on, switched to live view on the LCD, breezed through the initial set up, and began to test it out.

It was incredible! Even pictures of my own feet taken in auto mode were glorious!

Then I decided to turn off the LCD and have fun with a speedier auto-focus using the regular viewfinder.

I was ready for the magic to begin in earnest.

Reverently, I held the camera up to my face and gently pressed my right eye into the rubber cup of the viewfinder. I peered through and saw…an ant?

What?! No. It couldn’t be.

I looked again. There it was. A tiny ant—clearly dangling right in the center of the frame!

How do you miss that when you’re doing your refurb checklist, I wonder?

The initial shock has worn off now, and I’m only mildly disappointed. I’ve already taken hundreds of shots with my little photo-bombing ant friend. He’s not in the lens, so he doesn’t actually affect the images. He is somewhere in the camera and we can’t get to him ourselves. That does mean I’ll have to send my beautiful, new toy in for service, but it’s under warranty. Other than a little inconvenience, it’s really no big deal.

So why do I tell this story?

Well, because it was unexpected.

Had I been asked to make a list of all the things that might go wrong with my camera order, I’m certain that this particular issue wouldn’t have even entered my imagination. It was utterly unforeseen; I had no way to anticipate it.

In this case, it amounted to nothing more than a minor nuisance, so I handled it pretty well.  But I’m not generally known for my love of spontaneity or improvisation.

To put it bluntly, I can be a bit of a passive-aggressive control freak when my routine or agenda is challenged.

This is partly because I’m not as organized or industrious as I could be—so I leave no margin of error for even a small aberration from the expected course of events. And it’s partly because I’m just that sheltered and pampered. Day to day life usually stays within my preferred boundaries. I don’t get a ton of practice dealing with curve balls.

The real issue is deeper, though. I think I rely far too much on my orderly world (not, in itself, a bad thing), and not nearly enough on God.

I know that sounds like a generic statement, but I don’t know how else to say it. I tend to be so content with my good life that I forget why it goes so well. It just is the way it is. This means that when the unexpected comes, it doesn’t find me already engaged in a conversation with God. It doesn’t find me aware of his presence. It isn’t the most natural and reflexive thing for me to pause and say, “Well Lord, what should we do about this one?”

Nope, too often my gut response is to start maneuvering and conniving to bend people and circumstances back to the most comfortable and manageable place for me—while doing my best to appear disinterested, of course. And if it doesn’t work…I’m cranky.

It’s unpleasant and manipulative, yes, but it also means I miss out on a whole lot. And maybe, so do a lot of other folks.

I wonder how much differently I would respond to interruptions, inconveniences, surprises, and disappointments if I was really trying to see what God is doing around me. If I was already availing myself to a continuous, natural dialog with him. If I was trying to see his heart. If I was excited to find ways to show him I love him.

I might see interruptions as occasions to teach. I might see inconveniences as opportunities to love. I might see surprises as invitations from my bridegroom. I might see disappointments as opportunities to bare my heart to God and let him teach me.

I might see.

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