Graduation, full-time jobs, and long-distance relationships.
All of these events are pretty inevitable parts of my near future. You’d think I’d have to be reminded of the planning it takes for each occasion to fall so neatly in place. But oh, dear reader, I am all too aware. It seems these days my memory only serves to remind me of the mental and physical preparation it takes to move from semi-independent living to a state of complete freedom. Many find no other excitement in life than such a time as this. I on the other hand, feel quite the opposite. Change has never been my strong suit, and like a bird afraid to leave the nest, I am terrified of flying.
As you can see, I have a pretty deep-seated fear of the future, and for the majority of the summer, uncertainties ruled my mind. What am I going to do after Greenville? Where am I going to go? How will I support myself? And where in the world will my friends and family fit in? The possibility of failure was too large. Risk outweighed reward. And just like that, I gave up on myself before I had even begun.
It took three days of sheer discomfort, two deep sobs, and one long phone call to flip this sort of thinking around. Once I raised my head out of the water, I was able to look at my life and see the situation in a new light. I realized that in the face of uncertainty there are two and only two proper responses. The first of these is fear. Thanks to human instinct, fight or flight often prompts us into frenzy when safety is not guaranteed.
If you haven’t already guessed, this is usually my go-to emotion. As stated previously though, fear isn’t the only emotion that stems from uncertainty. A good portion of the time, the unknown evokes a sense of enticement from those few ready and willing to conquer the world. For these individuals, the appeal of a new experience trumps any idea of security, and one who pursues this line of logic often falls into a “worth the risk” sort of mentality.
Perhaps you can identify with one or both of these reactions. Maybe you’re like me and lead an overly cautious life. Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and have no guard up whatsoever. Whether uncertainty lures you or has you straying far from it, it is important to note that both emotions can become unhealthy or harmful if taken too far.
The Bible supports this theory by acknowledging and advising strictly against either form of extremism. Matthew 25:14-30, also known as the Parable of Talents, confronts the issue of future-governed fears and tells the tale of a man all-too scared of investment. His financial security is unclear, and so instead of taking the chance to advance his monetary status, he chooses to settle for things as they are. The story goes to show that trust is foundational to any sort of life progression and that self-doubt only fosters self-destruction.
While the parable certainly advocates a sense of fearlessness, another story warns against letting curiosity fuel your actions. In the classic story of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), Adam and Eve find themselves enticed by a single dietary restriction. They are told they cannot eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and after testing all other options, their interest finally gets the best of them. The sense of security here lies not in the shadows of the familiar, but rather in the promise of experience otherwise unavailable. As Adam and Eve soon find however, knowing often comes with a price. And so does uncertainty, if we chase after it relentlessly.
If you don’t take this from the scripture references above, take it from me. There is no wisdom in diving head-first into every situation. Neither is there value in sitting on the sidelines for the sake of safety. As I’m learning in light of my own future-endeavors, it can be easier to run than to stand tall. There are far too many individuals who share this mentality, and there is an equal amount who blindly pursue their calling without any form of planning whatsoever. It can be difficult to find a balance between the two extremes, and when you’re caught in the middle, the best thing you can do is look up. There is someone who knows your future better than you do, and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So step into his presence, and I am more than convinced that when you do, he will bring you safely into every opportunity he has in store.