The Great Unknown
Not knowing is harder than bad news. That is not to say that terrible news is easy to deal with; it’s just that there is something definitive to work towards or against when you have it. There is an overwhelming number of unknowns when you don’t know your next move, what will happen, or why you’re ill. So how do you go on without losing it?
Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop
“Waiting for the other shoe to drop” was a relatively common saying when I was growing up. It perfectly encompassed the anxiety associated with not knowing what was coming next. Usually, the phrase was accompanied by another, “walking on eggshells.” As in, “I was walking on eggshells because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.” For anyone unfortunate enough to be living like this, we understood that they were overwhelmed by stress, in a constant state of extreme anxiety, and most likely, fear.
Stress As Illness
What is it about being unsure of the future that leads us to shrink into ourselves? As kids, we would tense-up up our muscles in anticipation of a punch because we knew that if we stayed tense, the punch wouldn’t hurt as badly. But what about the tension? All that stress can’t be good either! Living like that is often more damaging healthwise than just rolling with the punches as they come.
Fight Or Flight Is For Emergencies Only!
Chronic stress can affect your entire body negatively. Your body was designed to deal with high-stress situations on a rolling basis – not as a constant state. You shouldn’t always be running from lions! From mood disorders like depressions and panic attacks, body aches and pains, respiratory and heart problems, weight gain from increased cortisol(the stress hormone) excretion to a lowered immune system response. Stress is terrible for your health.
You’re Stressing Me Out About Stress!!
So what can we do about lowering our stress levels when we don’t know what will happen next?
Close your eyes and ground yourself. Then, put your feet squarely on the floor – press down on your thighs right above your knees with both hands and breathe slowly.
When I recognize that I am not in control of a particular situation, I try to sit back a moment with my eyes close and regroup. What is the worst possible outcome? Can I do anything right now to mitigate the damage? What can I do to deal with the fallout if I can not do anything to prevent a bad outcome? What don’t I know? What do I want to know? Can I pray right now?
When other people tell me to calm down, I don’t want to hear it. But when I tell myself to calm down, I’m far more likely to listen. I could feel the stress and anxiety welling up within me this morning as I struggled with my own great unknown. I feel a bit better now. No, the problem didn’t disappear. I still don’t know what is going to happen. But I do know that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, and right on time.
I do know, that despite my circumstances, God is with me. Through every struggle, heartbreak, tragedy and storm in my life, the one constant has been God. It doesn’t matter If I know the future – It only matters that He is with me while I live through it.
Psalm 50:11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.