I woke up Monday and realized I needed to cancel the day because I just couldn’t. This felt weird because typically, I have an enormous amount of willpower but at the same time it felt right because my heart was heavy in my chest. I think it’s taken me nearly 5 years of therapy to realize it’s ok to let my heart lead some days. And Monday was a day that my heart needed a time-out. A hard stop. We scratched homeschooling, turned on the TV, ate popcorn and took naps. All I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch, inhale the sweetness of my daughter’s hair and be comforted by one of my favorite childhood Disney movies, Robin Hood. We ate frozen pizza and left dirty dishes in the sink. All the normal “doing” went out the window and it felt like we took a collective personal day.
My kids didn’t mind one bit! But as for me, I felt partly ashamed, partly relieved and mostly confused.
Whenever I feel baffled by a situation, I realize it is time for me to get still and listen. Over the past few years, God has been teaching me that life with Him is more about my willingness than my willfulness. So I willingly surrendered to the moment as it was, and listened. I heard my soul quietly whisper, “I’m weary from all the unpredictability.”
As humans, unlike any other animal, we are able to perceive time as a real thing. Time is an entity that impacts our decisions and behaviors. That means how we perceive the past, impacts our present. And what we believe about the future affects how we live today. Curt Thompson, a Christian psychiatrist & author who focuses on neurobiology and spiritual formation, explains that
“Right now, (within the pandemic) the unpredictability of the future is causing great anxiety in our present day lives.”
He goes on to say that “predictability is a function of our brain’s “time management system.” It is something we depend upon for survival in most situations in life.”
It appears my weariness can be explained. It’s normal for my brain to want to protect me by making sense of things, and when the future is unpredictable, my brain gets tired. This time I needed a break, and I’m glad I took one, even though in the moment it felt like I was failing a little.
The next day, I came across Psalm 13 and as I read the words on the page, I couldn’t believe how closely my thoughts matched the authors’, though we are separated by nearly 2,000 years.
Could it be that the struggle with unpredictability is part of our human experience?
And what if, it’s a necessary step towards a life of faith because unpredictable circumstances provide a gateway to trust.
Today, I want to give you the same opportunity that I had. As you read these words from Psalm 13, give your heart and mind permission to resonate with whatever phrase holds true, right now, in this moment:
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13, NIV
Notice the author asks how long…. how long….how long? In his own season of unpredictability, he wrestled with the thoughts in his head and the grief in his heart. And all the while he fought an enemy just like we do today. I know I’m fighting the enemy of isolation and feeling alone (even when I’m in a house with 3 other people). Daily I find myself fighting the enemy of doubt, the enemy of “not enough” and fear.
But the author is able to pivot away from the relentless pressures brought on by the world and his mind with four simple words: But I trust You.
He claims his trust in God’s relentless, unfailing love and moves out of the unpredictability of his circumstances and into the predictability of God.
God and His unfailing love can be trusted.
But how does unfailing love feel? I seem to be able to feel the uncertainties, fear and anxiety more strongly than I feel God’s unfailing love.
In the same article, Dr. Thompson goes on to say that we feel love by embodying love. (Guys, this article was amazing, click here to read the whole thing!)
To embody is to experience something in our bodies. It’s when something is felt. And we feel love when we give it, receive it or witness it happening around us.
As we experience love, we move right into the present moment where it’s happening and everything else fades away. God promises this love is unfailing and I think we have proof. Simply look around.
We turn on the news and see medical staff and first responders fighting to save us. We feel loved when we pass essential workers in the grocery store working tirelessly to feed us. We hear a friend’s voice through the phone say, “I’m listening, go on.” And we feel loved as she witnesses our pain and our joy and goes to bat for us, even when we can’t for ourselves. Or I practically touched love today, when my daughter asked, “Did you catch it?”
“Catch what?” I said
“My kiss to you.”
Things may feel uncertain, but we are certainly loved.
We were created to embody God’s love and to participate in His ongoing love story. He’s called us to be His hands and feet because it’s His experienced love, here and now, that saves us.
So the day I thought I cancelled, I actually just wrapped my arms around my kids and embodied love.
I want to remember this. Because I know the anxiety and fear of uncertainty will come again. And as uncertainty rises, and I start to shut down or freak out, I want to pivot towards love. I want to encourage you and say, you can too.
Whether that’s giving it or receiving it, let’s choose love in our moments of uncertainty.
For unfailing love is the place we can stand and where God promises to save us.