Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Times of Uncertain Certainty

I have been surrounded lately by times of uncertainty … uncertainty in a variety of forms and on a number of levels.  I am keenly aware of many of my students preparing and waiting for a call to a church, members of my family anxiously yearning to learn results about health issues/tests, friends in need of a job and anticipating hearing back from applications or interviews, and so many others.  Living with uncertainty and uncertain times is something everyone has to learn to deal with, but it is seldom easy.  We live in a culture of instant gratification and virtually instantaneous communication – we are not used to waiting.   However, waiting we must do at times.

Knowing that and living with it are two different things.  I know I have to wait but I wish not to.  That does not change reality.  So how do we face uncertainty?  I remember my Grandmother once telling me that “God never gives me more than I can handle, but sometimes I think God has greatly overestimated my abilities to handle things.”  That is how we feel sometimes – overwhelmed by what we are expected to handle, thinking life is pushing us beyond our limits.  But my experience tells me that when we feel this way, it is often because we are trying to handle these anxious times on our own.  It is often because we are trusting in our own resources.  It is often because we are juggling too many things in the air and as they drop we panic.

I don’t think there are simple answers to the anxiety we often feel, but I do think there are healthy ways to live with the uncertainty in our lives.  I have lived with uncertain times in my work life, in my call, in my family, in the health of loved ones, and in my own faith.  That is anxiety and I have experienced my fair share – as we all have.  There were times when I handled things better than others.  There were times when I definitely thought life was overestimating my abilities to handle things.  There were times I also felt incapable of surviving.  But I did.  And so will we all.

Life is an interesting mix of amazing grace-filled moments, glorious highs, anxiety-ridden lows, and uncertainties in-between.  As my Dad always tells me, “Nobody promised you a perfect life.”  We will all face uncertainties and difficulties, period.  The difference will be in how we react to those times.   Even in those difficult moments we can act with certainty – certainty that we will get through them, certainty that God is with us, certainty that our community of faith and families of birth or choice support us, and certainty that life will go on.  That is certain … no matter the uncertainties we face. 

Life goes on.  And we get to determine how we face it.  I decide to face it with certainty, even in uncertain times. 

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