If you’ve read my blog for a while – or spoken to me – you’ve likely heard me tell the story about the ice cream cone and the sundae, as first told to me by my Mom.

It goes something like this:

When my Mom was a child, she went to an ice cream parlor with her family. As she sat down at the booth with her siblings, her Dad asked them all the same question: “What would you like?”

My Mom was the first to answer, and she quickly blurted out:

“I want a vanilla ice cream cone!”

When it came time for the other siblings to tell their Dad, they said three words:

“Dad, surprise me.”

When her Dad walked back to their booth, he was carrying a tray full of extravagant looking ice cream sundaes on one hand, and in his other – a vanilla ice cream cone.

To this day, this is the best lesson my Mom ever taught me, and there are a lot of things to unpack between the lines.

Who got what they wanted? Everybody.

Mom got a vanilla ice cream cone.

The siblings got a surprise.

The Father got to bless his children and exceed their expectations, while meeting them at the same time.

Everybody got ice cream.

How long did it take before my Mom began to wish she had asked her Dad for a surprise, instead of the now-plain looking vanilla ice cream cone melting in her hand? I never asked her.

I often think about this story as it relates to my own life. For most of my life, I can say that I’ve had a good one. However, I’m now beginning to understand the difference between having a good, great and best life. 

It doesn’t come from money. It doesn’t come from sex. It doesn’t come from doing partying or shotgunning beers down my throat. Several of those things were in my life for longer than I care to admit, though the most difficult break-up I ever had was learning to distance myself from the wrong wom[a/e]n and instead look to God for who He has in mind for me. That’s another topic for another time.

I recently chatted with a friend of mine who recently started a job in California. Shortly after starting, she began to realize the job wasn’t a good fit, and the company leadership was nothing short of corrupt, foul and unprofessional. She decided she had enough of the job and made up her mind to move back to the home she owned close to Yosemite.

Due to the relocation, she calculated that she had lost about $5,000 in order to accept the job; split between moving expenses, rent, etc. She was determined to make that money back instead of viewing it as a sunk cost, and she asked me if I thought it would be smart of her to simply relocate without telling the company, and milk her remaining paychecks out until she wasn’t in the red on account of taking the job.

I asked her one question:

“Is your integrity worth selling for $5,000?”

I don’t think she liked that question, based on her response to me. However, I didn’t have any other answer to give her, because that’s the way that I would personally approach the situation, and have approached similar situations with the same mind set.

I think it’s really easy to fall prey to scenarios where your integrity falls into a gray area. However, in more cases in my own life, I’m realizing the importance of maintaining your ethics, integrity and listening to God’s voice even when it doesn’t make sense.

Trust me, there’s a Sundae out there for you if you simply learn to ask God to surprise you.

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