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Expected and Un-

Can we all agree to stop saying “Expect the Unexpected”? It’s dumb.

Megan Preston Meyer
Megan Preston Meyer

Luke 21:34-36

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Can we all agree to stop saying “Expect the Unexpected”? It’s dumb. (No offense to you, Jesus – and You didn’t really say that, anyway, so hopefully, none taken...)

You CAN’T expect the unexpected. For one, it’s definitional – if you expect something, it ceases to be unexpected, and then you’re right back where you started from. That’s pedantic, though (or semantic… probably both), so more compellingly, you can’t expect the unexpected because the range of possible things that are outside of what you expect is infinite. You couldn’t possibly even imagine them all, let alone expect them all. So, sorry, all you bumper stickers/motivational Instagram posts/cut-rate corporate keynote speakers, we will never expect the unexpected. Stop telling us to. You’re setting us up for failure.

What we can do, though, is become robust. We can become antifragile. We can ready ourselves to deal with whatever comes, unexpected or not. We can watch, as we’re told to do, and we can learn to hold our liquor. We can pray to be alert and to be strong and to be ready for whatever comes, whenever that may be.

Because, if we’re honest, most of us don’t think that we’ll actually have to stand before the Son of Man. Sure, it says it in the Book, but that’s a metaphor, or a myth, or something that may happen far in the future. It hasn’t happened for over two millennia, so why would we expect it in the next couple of decades? We wouldn’t.


That’s all the more reason to watch.