Sometimes I struggle with not having answers. Well, lets be honest, I ALWAYS struggle with not having answers. In fact, it causes me extreme anxiety a lot of the time. Daily, I find myself saying “I will just feel better when I finish this” or “I just need this to be taken care of and I’ll be less stressed.” But then there is always something else that is incomplete, there is always some upcoming deadline, or doctor’s appointment, or due date looming in the future.
What happens is I get caught up in what I like to call the A-B-C sequence. Being a very organized, methodical person, I always like to have things planned out in advance to minimize the possibility of anything going wrong. If I am at point A, then I need to map out every possible point B, and then every possible point C branching off from each point B. However, most times I have found this to be completely ineffective. The more efficient I try to be, the less I seem to get done. The more I plan, the more all those plans seem to go to waste because I’m thrown for a loop by something unanticipated anyways.
Last year the church community that I went to had a service that covered this problem. The pastor talked about the root of the problem being trust and faith. Not trusting ourselves and not trusting God with our future. They had a room set up next to the main worship room. When you entered it was pitch black. Upon entering, one of the staff members would lead you to a rope and place your hand on it. Then you were on your own to navigate from there. I’ll tell you, I’m an adult and I’m certainly not afraid of the dark, but it was unnerving. Mostly so, because after the talk we had during the service, the room took on a whole different meaning. The symbolism is that, sometimes God will only show us step A, when we are already trying to figure out X, Y, and Z. Sometimes, we are left in the dark, grasping on to a rope, and needing to have faith that God knows our next steps and that He is leading us in the right direction and not off a cliff.
I will be the first to admit, I suck at this. I try it for awhile, and not surprisingly, it is a much better method then attempting to have everything figured out. Somehow, I still fall back into the same patterns. A lot of times it has to do with people around me stressing about the same things. Other people’s anxieties rub off on me, I ask myself “I’m not stressed about what this person is stressed about, should I be? Well now I’m stressed that I’m not more stressed.”
Right now, I don’t know where I should be. As in, I don’t know what state I should be living in at opposite ends of the country. I keep trying to make a decision, saying “Ok, well if I do this then how am I going to do this, and pay this, and have insurance for this, this and this.” But “If I decide to live here, then how am I going to do this, and work here, and get to this place…” and the list goes on. This is literally my thought process all day every day. No wonder I am exhausted by the end of the day! I spend time on the phone with insurance companies, licensing boards, health systems, student loan agencies, employers, etc. I feel like I’ve been doing enough work for an entire company. Hence the A-B-C sequence. I am at point A, and I’m trying to figure out the exact course of each decision and exactly how that will look months from now. As I write this down, I see how trying to accomplish this is absolutely absurd and impossible. I’m looking so far towards the future that the present is flying right by me. I’m barely stopping to appreciate what is right in front of me.
Sometimes I’ll go through things that I don’t really want to stop and appreciate, but even in our hardest moments, sometimes it is important to just stop, and feel the moment. If I am going through an unusually rough time or a period of depression, I have made a point to just sit down and really feel it. Then later, when I overcome it (which I inevitably do every time even though it seems hopeless) then I can appreciate where I am at so much more then if I had just rushed through it and ignored all the bad feelings. If I experience all the hurt and fear and depression, then later, I feel that much stronger for overcoming it since I realized the depth of how hard that time was.
When I try to break free of that sequence, and move back to the point where I’m comfortable hanging on to a rope in the darkness, not knowing where it leads me, I remind myself of the times in the past where I have done so. God has never steered me wrong or let me down, not once. A lot of times it took SO much longer then what I hoped for or wanted, but in the end everything worked out. And during the long wait, I was far less stressed or anxious because all I had to tell myself is “I don’t have it all figured out, but thankfully God does, so there’s no need to worry.” For example, I have moved to Florida twice now, where I moved before actually having raised enough money to sustain a living here. I just knew where I was supposed to be to the core of my heart and ran with it, having the faith that God was running right alongside of me, even when everyone else thought I was being completely reckless and irresponsible. Two summers ago I drove here from Michigan, having only a couple hundred dollars in my savings account since I had just totaled my car and had to buy another one, my student loans had not gone through yet, and to be honest, I was not entirely sure if I had enough money to pay the gas to get me here. Yet here I am, two and a half years later, still living in Florida having gotten my masters degree and being proud to say, completely financially independent.
But I somehow find myself back to square one (or point A?). Frankly, I’m exhausted from my endless attempts of finding all the answers before the questions are even asked. Right now, I will face what is in front of me. I will make appointments, submit applications, turn in progress notes, make payments, all to the best of my knowledge. In comparison to God, that is very limited. How can I expect to know my future better then the God of the universe, who sees all there is, and has been, and yet to come? My scope of reality of my life is like a grain of sand compared to God. Why would I rely on my own understanding?
How refreshing it will be to simply say “Ok God I don’t know what to do, but I’m going to try my best and let you fill in the blanks where I’m missing answers.” Instead of this long, endless tirade of “Well if I do this, then this will happen, but what if this happens? Then I’ll have to do this and so on and so on.” Right now, all I have is closing my eyes and taking a step forward, day by day, hour by hour. The only answers I have are enough to make it through the next 24 hours, a week at the most. Everything else is too unpredictable, too frequently changing to make any sort of plans. Thankfully, at least somebody knows the answer, and if I just listened a little more often, maybe I would know them too.
My thoughts to live by this week:
“It has been said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
“I know I said I was going to be healthy but it’s rainy and that called for a milkshake” I <3 my roommate. (Taken with Instagram)
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. -Oscar Wilde
It’s the blessing and curse of being pursued by hope, of living with a chest full of the future and the presence of all that is absent.
Believing breaks my heart,
But my unbelief makes me wonder if I even have one.
A hope is coming for me, one that refuses to tire, even when I think im tired of it.
The hope is relentless, it will not fail.
Churches must become a safe place for doubters. The church should reward honesty rather than punish honesty. Because let’s face it: we are small-brained, little human beings. We don’t have the big picture. Bad things happen, and [people] have questions.Philip Yancey // with everything inside of me, i will endeavour for my church to be a refuge for those who have been struck down by their questions. (via unchartedendeavours)
As much as I dislike a lot of things about Florida, days like today make it worth it with @ccody (Taken with instagram)
Road tripping it to Atlanta, Georgia! Already planning some post-graduation adventures and shenanigans! (Taken with instagram)
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