Living in Uncertainty
I have a confession.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
That’s right! I am not an expert at being an adult. I can’t even say I’m an expert in recovery. I make mistakes, am not “strategic” in my career moves, and don’t have my life planned out with incredibly specific goals for the next 5 years like some of the self-help books suggest I do.
I have dreams and desires for sure- like living a happy life with my husband (who I’ve yet to meet) and the 8 kids we’ll adopt. I ask people for advice and pray through every decision I make, but to be totally real with you guys- I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing.
And to be totally honest, this is a hard thing for me to admit. As a recovering perfectionist, my first instinct is to control, predict, and perform. I catch myself sometimes waiting for that burning bush moment to know that I am on the right path, and it doesn’t normally come- shocking, I know.
So, you can imagine my response to creeping thoughts like,
Where am I going? What am I doing? Am I doing something wrong? What if I make the wrong choice? What if things don’t work out the way I want them to? What’s going to happen to me?
And then! I found this crystal ball guys! And it’s so awesome! You can just ask it all of those questions and it SHOWS you! I’ve solved our problems! We don’t have to live in uncertainty anymore!!!!
Is that really what you expected me to say?
I hope not.
Because I didn’t find that crystal ball- but I did find something a little better- and a little more fun.
I’m discovering how to live in uncertainty.
And this is a process y’all. I’m not doing it perfectly. But, living in uncertainty compared to surviving in uncertainty, has only been a matter of changing my outlook.
There are two big things that have really helped me, and here’s what they are:
1. I stopped shaming myself for doubting.
It was explained to me like this. Doubt is a normal human experience. When we encounter something we haven’t gone through before, anything uncertain, doubt is an intellectual response. We are unsure of the unknown. I could no more control that, than the fact that I can’t eat dairy. I can certainly try and suppress that fact and go ahead and eat it anyway, but it has its way of coming out in other areas… if you know what I mean.
Instead of guilting myself for being a bad Christian because it was hard for me to trust in a plan bigger than me, I prayed and talked about it with people of understanding. “Be gentle with me,” I prayed “because this is hard, and I’m doubting.”
No more masks. Just the straight truth.
2. I’m waiting to be surprised.
In times of uncertainty, we often forget that the unknown is the birthplace of amazing things that we never would have expected.
Times of uncertainty are God’s favorite place to surprise us.
And by looking back at my life and past experiences, I can tell you this is true. God has turned some of the most tumultuous situations in my past into beautiful masterpieces. But trying to understand this, is like trying to look at one little square in a painting with a magnifying glass and thinking that I can comprehend the whole picture. I can’t see that a couple of splashes of blue and green are really the iris of someone’s eye, and that there is a whole person singing and dancing in the portrait.
To really embrace both of these in practice though, is really hard. Really hard. It requires me to throw away everything that I think I know about a person, place, situation, and even my own recovery. To be surprised I have to stay curious in the unknown.
This takes practice, but having lived in this place of uncertainty for a while- I can tell you this.
I’m not only going to be surprised when my uncertain situation is resolved, but when I’m paying attention and being curious in the unknown, I’m being surprised over and over and over again in little ways.
For example, before, I used to look at the sky, wishing that someone would sky write in the clouds what it was that I was supposed to do and where I was going to end up. Update on that- it still hasn’t happened. But recently, I’ve taken a different approach. I look up at the sky and I see birds. I was reminded how they don’t plan out their life at all, literally at all. They move moment to moment, trusting that they will find what they need, and somehow they are taken care of. And they are free.
I’d much rather live like that, than trembling my way through uncertainty.
Today, I have a special task for you. Reflect on some of your favorite stories. Right before that big battle or that critical character development- what were the circumstances? Did the main character know how the story was going to end? Isn’t it always darkest before the dawn, or uncertain and crazy and looking like there is absolutely no way to win, right before the most amazing ending?
How boring would that story be if everything just worked out in a smooth and predictable way?
And if we’re being honest with ourselves- don’t we want to be the heroine of a epic story? As I was reminded recently, a God directed life is one of infinite possibilities. I for one am down for the ride.
All right Recover Girl, let’s FLY.