I have more questions and uncertainty about next month than I did last week! At least when it was clear we were to ‘shelter-in-place’ for this month I had clear boundaries. Now everything is uncertain. Are we going back to the office next week? Can I have a BBQ with friends? Will there be live events in June? How do I budget the rest of the year? When will there be a vaccine? … The list of questions is endless!
One thing is clear… Life is not ‘normal’ and we are ALL LIVING WITH AN INCREASED MEASURE OF UNCERTAINTY. So how do you deal with it? How do you make decisions?
I think I definitely have a degree (or at least a participation certificate!) in living with uncertainty! In 2008 we left the certainty of our home in New Zealand with my certain employment and my certain retirement and my certain circle of friends and family. I had no idea how much my life was beautifully controlled. Then we arrived in USA with nothing BUT uncertainty: uncertain income, uncertain immigration status, uncertain housing, uncertain future.
That was more than ten years ago and we are still living with uncertainty… except now my circle of influence is much greater so more people can see my successes and failures in the process.
The uncertainty journey triggered a bunch of fear. It looked like anger and ‘frustration’ and insecurity and trying desperately to hold onto our savings – more akin to fruitless attempts to hold water in your hands.
The point is NOT ONCE did God let us down. It was scary. It was painful looking at how I responded. It was confusing. It was unstable. But I AM BETTER TODAY BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS COME OUT OF IT…(more so because of the faithfulness of God than any awesome decision making on my part).
So YOU are faced with more uncertainty that you realized. How will you deal with it?
Here are your options – from my experience and how I see it.
1. Passive Surrender = “I have no control.”
This looks like blame, accusation, powerlessness, ignorance and avoiding facing the issues. I’ve done that. For spiritual people it will sound like “I’m just trusting God.” For others it may sound like, “I can’t do anything because…[fill in the excuse about some authority or circumstance that has seemingly taken away your power to decide] )”
Bottom line is you always have a choice. No choice is a choice to be powerless. Trusting God is not passive. Surrender to God (ie. trust) is ACTIVE and ENGAGED. It is not simply waiting for someone else to tell you what to do, but intentionally leaning in, looking around, doing what is in your hand and CHOOSING PRACTICAL HOPE. What CAN you do now? What WILL you do now?
2. Active resistance = “I’ll take control.”
This looks like reacting to what others or the authorities are saying by doing the opposite (rather than #3 below). It sounds like “You can’t tell me what to do… I have rights!” So you sneak around or blatantly do something, usually only considering yourself and your immediate surroundings. Rarely does this response take into consideration others in the community, especially those more vulnerable.
It looks like me reacting to my situation of no income for three years by stressing and fussing and running around DOING STUFF rather than pausing and thinking through the situation and involving wise counselors and a thought-out plan. It looked like me focussed more on MY problems (and calling it ‘responsibility’) and having limited capacity or compassion for the people around me.
3. Wise decision making = “I am under control.”
I think after ten years of uncertainty I MIGHT be learning this. Danny Silk says, “Freedom is telling yourself what to do and then doing it.” It is SELF-control. In others words, I don’t need the external world to govern me because I manage myself from an internal decision making process.
This looks like hope in the middle of despair, peace in the midst of turmoil and thoughtful consideration in the middle of panic. It thinks long term and acts today. It takes into consideration how one’s actions will affect the immediate AND wider community and follows through with a plan to the best of one’s ability. It is not passive, but intentional action knowing that we cannot control the outcome anyway – we CAN CONTROL our behaviors moment by moment and we CAN give our best in every circumstance. It is a life of active surrender that takes responsibility for oneself, but knows that the ultimate outcome is in the hands of God… and has absolute security in that.
There is always something you can do. There is always something in your hand that you can action. There is always someone you can be a voice of encouragement and wisdom to.
Andy Mason comes from New Zealand and has 15+ years experience helping individuals and organizations discover and align with purpose, then develop practical steps to make dreams a reality.He has worked for a national consultancy firm and leading financial institution as well as investing in international community development.Andy is the director of Heaven in Business and together with his wife, Janine, leads Dream Culture – a movement catalyzing people to discover and live their dreams. Andy and Janine live with their four children in Redding, CA. For more check out the AndyandJanine.com