When your world is turned upside-down with fear of an unknown future, here is how I cling to faith in uncertainty and lean into God during those seasons.
I woke up this morning and everything was fine.
I’m 38 1/2 weeks pregnant with our healthy, active baby boy. The sun was shining and birds were chirping as Boots and I went on our normal morning walk.
We’d just arrived back home and I was sitting on the front steps, enjoying the beautiful Colorado morning when I got a call from my husband, Adam.
The first words out of his mouth were, “I have some unfortunate news.”
And, immediately, I braced myself for whatever would be coming next.
“The company is doing temporary lay-offs effective tomorrow and I was the last one on the list to be laid off.”
This was completely out of the blue. There had been no discussions about budget cuts or anything else. There was no warning at all before this.
My heart started beating faster and my mind started racing.
“So…what does that mean as far as health insurance?” I asked.
“It would be terminated immediately,” he reluctantly replied.
And my heart sank.
Losing health insurance and his income a week and a half before my due date was not in our plans!
There is no timeline for these “temporary” lay-offs. They could last 2 weeks, 2 months, or a year. Nobody knows right now.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of our story today. Because he was the last on the list to be let go, he was offered one available position they had available in Wyoming. There will be a pay cut and a commute involved, but he will still have a job and we will still have health insurance.
I was so grateful, but, even with eventually getting that good news, my emotions had already been sent into a tailspin.
Sinking Into The What-Ifs Vs Staying Rooted In The What-Is
I know how fortunate we are. There were 8 other men on his crew alone (and many more across the state) who just lost their jobs without any notice at all.
But, honestly, I didn’t feel fortunate in that moment.
I felt scared.
My mind was reeling with all of the what-ifs.
What would we have done losing health insurance when I could deliver at any time? Would I still be able to see my doctor? Would we be able to afford the delivery and care we would need at the hospital? Do we even have the time to figure any of these answers out?
It was so stressful to imagine all of the possibilities.
But I had sunk into the what-ifs instead of staying rooted in the reality of what-is.
Was it scary to imagine the possibility of losing his income and benefits in a split second? Of course it was!
But that wasn’t my reality. That wasn’t my truth.
Sure, there are changes that we are going to need to adjust to. We don’t even know what all of those changes will be yet!
But the truth is, he still has his job. He still has benefits.
Worrying about what could have happened isn’t helping anyone right now.
So, I had a choice. I could keep letting myself spiral or I could be more proactive about my response.
I’ve faced this dilemma before. In the uncertainty of an emotionally abusive marriage and eventually a divorce, I had many opportunities to choose faith or fear.
Right after Adam and I got married, we dealt with a car accident, unexpected medical bills, debt, and a job loss. As much as I wish it were, life is not always stable or predictable.
I haven’t always chosen well in uncertainty, but I do try my best to cling to faith.
How I Cling To Faith in Uncertainty
#1 – Turn To God
My business partner, Sara, has been doing a wonderful series called Faith Over Fear with daily Bible readings and videos this month.
As soon as I hung up the phone with Adam, I pulled up her video for the morning because I could feel myself spiraling a bit and I knew I needed some Truth to hang onto.
I’m not saying that was an easy or natural first step.
Yes, I knew I needed some Truth, but what I felt like doing was going back to bed, letting my mind go haywire, calling friends to complain and get sympathy, and grabbing a bag of chocolate (yes, at 7:30am…even after losing 100 pounds and maintaining it for years, running to food for comfort and distraction is still a temptation!).
But I know myself well enough to know that just allowing myself to follow what I feel like doing in the moment could do more harm than good and lead me to self-destruction.
I didn’t get to choose our situation, but I do get to choose how I respond to it.
What I did instead to turn to God:
- I read Scripture. I watched Sara’s Faith Over Fear video and read Psalm 121 along with her.
- I wrote down 5 things I’m grateful for. I try to do this every single morning, but it was especially important to redirect my thoughts today. (If you need some extra help getting started, I have 31 gratitude journal prompts here.)
- I poured out my heart to God in a written prayer in my journal. I have always been a big feeler, feeling emotions very, very strongly. I’ve had to be very intentional about allowing myself to fully feel my feelings, but also not allowing them to overtake me or guide my decisions. It’s a delicate balance that I don’t always get right, but that’s always my goal! (I have journal prompts for your quiet time, too!)
- I took my thoughts captive. It didn’t happen immediately, but I started recognizing when I was needlessly worrying or believing things that just weren’t true. When I started imagining the what-ifs and drifting off into future thoughts of how things could get worse, I reeled my thoughts back in and intentionally redirected them. (I use these 5 steps to take my thoughts captive)
During my prayer time, something in my heart shifted.
Where my prayer started somewhat frantic and quite self-focused, it ended with a long prayer and a deeply genuine heart of compassion for the other men in his company getting laid off without any notice and for the care of their families.
That often happens in my time with the Lord – my focus is shifted off of myself and onto others.
#2 – Lean Into Community
I mentioned earlier than one of my temptations was to call my friends to complain about our situation.
But after the heart-shift that happens in my time with God, my goal is no longer to complain or gain sympathy (that’s why I very intentionally choose to turn to God BEFORE reaching out to friends and family!).
My goal is to honestly and openly share the situation with the people closest to me so that we can walk through it together.
In those moments of uncertainty, people in my life offer me:
- Prayer. This is the most precious gift to me. I believe in the power of prayer and when my own brain feels too scattered to pray, I know I have people offering up requests to the Lord on my behalf.
- Support/encouraging words. I’m a words of affirmation person, so hearing words of support and encouragement lifts me up in ways I can’t even describe. It not only changes my mood, but my entire perspective on a situation.
- Stability. Knowing that I have “my” people there is such a comfort to me. When things are changing and shifting and feel uncertain, it is so reassuring to know that I have people there – sometimes offering to meet my physical needs and sometimes just saying, “I’m here if you need to talk.”
#3 – Do What You Can & Let That Be Enough
In times of uncertainty, there is a temptation to take the burden of the entire situation on your shoulders. I feel it every time.
I end up feeling like a failure when I can’t fix things that are entirely out of my control.
After I’ve turned to God and brought in my support system, I do my best to separate the things that are within my control from the things that are out of my control.
Then I do my best to focus my time and efforts on the practical things I can control.
- My attitude (this is probably the biggest one for me!)
- My schedule
- My budget
- My eating
Anything that I can choose to change to improve the situation, I will.
At the end of the day, I can only give my best and that’s good enough.
Letting go of the things that are out of your control (like unexpected job lay-offs) can relieve so much of your burden.
And, if you’re anything like me, those things are going to keep sneaking into your thoughts, so stay on guard and don’t allow yourself to take on the burden of things that you can do nothing to change (unfortunately, worrying doesn’t fix problems!).
After I go through those three steps, I do them again and again, as often as I need to. It definitely takes intentionality, but it is so worth it to experience the peace, comfort, and freedom that comes from leaning into the Lord during those times.