I love the word, embrace. It has an unbridled feel to it. A hug can be timid or half-hearted, but an embrace is much bigger than a hug. Couple that word, embrace, with experiences that we normally work to avoid, and we have the makings of a paradigm-shifting mindset. Over the next few weeks, these posts will explore the possibility of embracing things we usually resist. One of those is uncertainty.
I am one of those who likes to know what to going to happen. I prefer knowing what to expect, even if it is unpleasant, rather than wondering what might be around the corner. I hate to admit that although I am an optimist by nature, I assume surprises are going to be bad.
Over the last decade or so, uncertainty has been my constant companion. Even now, as I look out over the horizon of what is ahead, uncertainty looms big. In virtually every area of my life, I do not know what is ahead. In reality, none of us know what is coming next. Each day holds in it the unknown that is unnerving, even for the most positive person. This uncertainty has pushed me to learn the needed lesson of embracing uncertainty, not as an enemy, but as a teacher of hope. How do we come to embrace uncertainty when it is so uncomfortable to us?
• Begin by acknowledging the inevitability of uncertainty and the illusion of control – When we operate as if we are in control of all around us, then the loss of control frightens us. We fight and clutch to hang onto the tiniest bit of control for fear that if we let go, everything will spiral downward. The illusion of control distorts our thinking. While it is true that we influence the direction of our lives and choose our responses to unforeseen events, we do not have control. We live healthier lives when we admit this truth.
• Mentally, begin to discipline your mind toward hope – When uncertainty confronts us, we can choose hope. Think adventure, instead of disaster. We do this by getting our minds out ahead of our emotions. This becomes a powerful habit. We may always struggle with taming our emotions, but we can change the disposition of the day by beginning to grow the discipline of leaning toward hope.
• Learn to live one day at a time – When we come to accept that we cannot control our future, we are more able to live in the present. We let go of the future and celebrate today. For years, my family had to live with the uncertainty that came with quarterly scans for cancer for my daughter. The anxiety around those times was excruciating. The only way we could survive was to rejoice in the day we were living and leave the future for another day. The lesson learned? Let go and live now!
• See interruptions as divine appointments – Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” Often, the sweetest, most meaningful moments of our days happen outside of our planned schedules. God is in the middle of the uncertain. God goes before us into the unknown. This conviction is how we learn to turn uncertainty from a cause for fear, to an opportunity for hope. We embrace the unplanned interruptions of our lives as divine appointments.
Begin today to reframe uncertainty as unexpected possibility.