How is it that life can be going along at a steady clip, with every day routine and humdrum. . . and then one day suddenly the apple cart is upended and nothing is clear anymore?
Isn’t that the way it always goes, though? About the moment we figure things out, the unexpected happens and we end up wondering where to go from here.
Just when. . .
I talked with a couple of friends at church the other day about babies and sleeping schedules. And I told them my experience was always this: just when baby settles into a nice routine, just when you think you’ll get a handle on this whole motherhood thing, well — that’s when baby decides to shake things up a bit. Maybe have a growth spurt, cut some teeth, or wake up and have a crib party at 3:00 a.m for no good reason at all.
We’ve got stuff going on in our family right now that has me downright baffled. I am shaking my head and wondering how it’s all going to work out in the end, because I don’t have any answers or solutions. I don’t know what to do, which step to take next. It’s all a big looming question mark over my head and I feel a bit helpless.
Leaning into the unknown
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years, though, especially after making a huge decision to move our family from one church to another, it’s the importance of leaning into the unknown.
Three years ago I had questions. I couldn’t see any viable solutions to our problems, and I truly didn’t know how to find the right path. It was a frightening way to live, in that fog of doubt and fear. It’s human nature to want answers and to want them right now.
This past weekend, a dense fog shrouded the Dallas area for three days. I was performing nights in a neighboring city and the road home was eerie, especially as I drove the overpasses through thick, yellowed clouds. Familiar terrain looked completely unfamiliar. None of the usual landmarks were visible.
You could lose your identity in that kind of fog.
But last night, as I got into my car just as dusk was settling in, I looked off behind the parking lot and saw gorgeous stripes of rich purple and pink spanning the western horizon. The fog had finally lifted and the sunset was clear and breathtaking.
Live the questions now
I recently ran across a quote by the poet Rilke, and it speaks so clearly to this idea of not knowing. Of learning to live in the questions, to accept them as they come and to treasure them. . . even though doing so goes against the grain of our human impulses.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
My prayer is that I learn to live everything, to live the questions now. I don’t want to waste even an hour of my life by worrying about problems I can’t solve right now. Instead, I want to learn to embrace the confusion and doubt, knowing that eventually the fog will lift to reveal a glorious sunset.
It’s easier said than done. But it’s where I’d like to be.
Comfortable in the cloud. Accepting of the unknown.
People who have all the answers are not pleasant people, are they? So, no — I don’t want to be like them.
- Count me among the questioners.
- Let me be the one who walks by faith and not by sight.
- Show me how to trust the voice of the One who knows the way, even — or especially — when I don’t have a clue where to turn.
Lord, help me live the questions now. Even today.
And may you reveal the answers in your time and give me eyes to see.