Counselor's Corner: Surprises and surrender

By Fred Cavaiani

Last Friday night as my wife and I were visiting our daughter and her husband and their two little girls, four and two, their four-year-old daughter said to me, "Grandpa, did you know that mommy has a baby in her tummy?!" For an eternal moment, there was absolute silence. The impact of the statement begin to sink in. Our daughter had two miscarriages in the past two years. I knew that they had discovered the problem and what she would have to do if she became pregnant again. It would be difficult but she would be able to have another child. Now the event had come to pass and I was told about it through the innocence of a four year old. It was incredible and beautiful. Then I discovered that my wife had known about this for the past 24 hours and was trying to get us all together so I could hear the wonderful news. My daughter then told me that she has been pregnant for two months and that her OBGyn told her that her chance of miscarriage now is very low -- only 1 percent. They didn't want to announce the pregnancy until they were a couple months along. What a delightful surprise last Friday evening held for me. I was so impressed by the strength of our daughter and son-in-law to want to try for a third child. This pregnancy is no accident but rather was carefully planned. I thought to myself, what wonderful news and then I immediately became grateful and amazed at the courage of my daughter and her husband for keeping this secret for two months so as not to worry anyone -- because we all would have been worried, supportive and anxious.

Surprises happen to everyone in life. They put us on a new path of life. Today became much different than yesterday. Another child changes a couple's life permanently. All of us experience surprises every day which cause changes in our lives. These surprises can be joyful or they can be sad. Either way they have to be embraced so we can go forward.

One of the biggest struggles in every person's life is the challenge of embracing surprises that come our way. It can be a new birth or it can be a new loss. It can be a marriage of a loved one or a divorce of a loved one. It can be a new adventure of good health or a new adventure of bad health. Either way it is a surprise and an adventure that needs to accepted, understood and embraced. Every daily surprise teaches us something about life. It teaches us how to go deeper within ourselves. It also challenges us to discover what are our real values in life. Every surprise in life gives us an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God and discover how to profoundly open up to this relationship.

Earlier in the day on the Friday that our granddaughter announced the great news of the pregnancy to us, I had been talking with an old friend who had recently lost her best friend. The pain and loss this wonderful woman was experiencing was deep and personal. This loss had put her on another path in life which she is embracing. It is a painful path but a very profound and soul enriching path which she realizes in all its' depth.

Each of us has experienced losses that makes our stomach touch our backbones in pain. Each of us has experienced joys that seem so great we wonder if it can get any better. Both of these 'surprises' are quite similar in their impact upon our journey through life. Both need to be embraced with gratitude. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow both need to be embraced and experienced. These tears of joy or of sorrow take us on new journeys.

The journey of life is for the purpose of experiencing love. We jump for joy when we love someone or something. We cry in sadness when we lose something or someone we love. The fundamental truth in life is that it is all about love. Those who are afraid to risk loving, risk living a complete life. Those who back away from relationships back away from experiencing Love. When we back away from loving someone and loving everyone we retreat into our own narcissism where it is dark and lonely and hopelessly sad. When we take the risk of humbly loving and embracing others, everything begins to open up to us even when we are crying and even when we are laughing.

I have two friends who have known each other for over forty years. Both of these men attend a Saturday morning sharing group on spirituality and then have breakfast together. They have been doing this for years. Both of these men in their 70s are filled with a humility and wisdom that inspires everyone around them. As I listen to them, I realize that these men have known how to embrace all the surprises, joyful or sad, that have happened to them throughout the years.

Every surprise brings an opportunity to surrender to embracing something new. This something new may be wrapped in a disguise. As it is embraced we discover that in this surrender to a new surprise we become bathed in a new light of wisdom, depth and peace. A road opens up to us. Something or Someone call us to a new journey of love, peace and wisdom. Stay on the new road. Experience the journey. It will bring you to love and gratitude which is what this life is all about and what the next life is all about.

I love my surprises today. They teach me how to surrender.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, and a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, May 24, 2011


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