Without Fear of the Future

The blog has been at the edge of my mind for a long time; I have numerous partial posts saved in my files, but I haven’t focused on finalizing any one of them.  But the tides of change often stir me again, and tonight, in the dark, I am teasing out a thought that keeps coming back to me this summer. I’ll share it with you, as I’m sure many of you can relate:

I’ve written often about my worry (HERE and HERE and a little HERE). I’ve written about experiencing worry and overcoming worry.  But every time a new life change looms, I have to find ways to remind myself that I have given it up.  I don’t need to wear worry like a cloak anymore.  I can walk unhindered without it.  Part of the journey has been growing my faith, and part has been accepting uncertainty, and part has been finding contentment.  And as I do all of those, God prompts me in ways both quiet and deafening.  I often run with a summer group of ladies named LAUGH.  This year, some of their group t-shirts are scripted with Proverbs 31:25- “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.”  That has become my loud and clear battle cry this summer.

I’ve read Proverbs 31 plenty of times- after all, it is the to-do list for the Christian woman, right?  And sometimes I chafed under that idea of it.  Could I meet all those expectations?  Did I even want to?  And I think in that self-righteous indignation (I don’t much care for being told what to do or who to be) I missed many gems of wisdom that God keeps laying before me as I grow.  This summer God gave me verse 25 because he knew that I would need it.  I went into summer with a goal that was big for me.  I signed up to compete in a triathlon.  If you remember, I quit run camp last year due to health stuff, went back into this winter with a little different plan and goal, and reached the end of it with this big goal of a triathlon.  I joined a training group of ladies, laid out my plan, and determined to do it.  But as so often happens, plans are hindered by life’s twists.  In June, Nick parted ways with his business partners.  It felt a little like jumping without a parachute- the next steps were not fully clear.  There was some waiting and waiting and waiting.  (Because I’m so terrible at waiting, I believe God keeps giving me opportunity to practice.)

As the job plan solidified, I realized two things:  1) my training plan was definitely going to suffer; 2) my financial plan was also on wavering ground.  Some of these realizations came during summer vacation in Traverse City, a time when I wanted to be lounging carefree at the beach and eating ice cream with laissez-faire.  I did not want to fall into a

barefoot beach blur break

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muddy desperation or an exhausting reconfiguring of plans, so in the midst of it all, I kept coming back to the words, “she laughs without fear of the future.”   I love the use of the word “laughs”.  God doesn’t say, she PLANS or she DESIGNS or she RECONFIGURES.  Those all sound tiring, not at all like my beach-lounging hopes.  He says she LAUGHS.  Laughter is not forced; it is not a conscious choice; instead, it bubbles up from moments of joy.  Laughter lessens stress, calms nerves, and positively affects those around us.  And I found many moments in that week and the week that followed to laugh.  It buoyed me out of that desperate place of worry where I used to find myself.

I used to fear so much of the future; I busily tried to control variables in my relationships, my finances, my health, and even my faith in order to avoid the thought of the unknown.  And in recent years, God has led me from fear into faith.  But I was often still missing the joy that can be present in the unknown.  I was teeth-gritted, focused, determined to not be afraid, but I can’t say that the laughter was rolling forth.  This summer, I can see that laughter is a sign of the next step.  It is not the careless laughter of sweeping problems under the rug (I was a pro at that in my early marriage), but the confident laughter of knowing without a doubt that life will untangle itself without me getting all tied up in the midst of it.

I came home from vacation with a revamped plan.  Nick is traveling for work for a while, and I am doing my best to squeeze in training with a little help from my family and friends, a little creativity, and a little patience from my girls.  I learned long ago, and am continuously reminded, that finances also work themselves out in their own way.  This week it was a well-timed dollar sale at Meijer.  Next week- we’ll see.  But I feel happy.  No gritted teeth here this time.  I am too STRONG to quit, to DIGNIFIED to cry, and I am laughing my way through it- not fake giggling or attention-seeking guffawing, but joyous, trusting, liberating laughter.

Whatever you are facing, wherever you find yourself right now, I hope you can find joy.  Trust the process- mine has been unfolding for years.  It is a bit like watching my girls learn to swim: there is the letting go, the sinking, the reaching for safety, but underneath the water, the constant kicking for the surface and the unwavering hand nearby to hold you above the danger.  And when the pieces begin to fall into place, there is the joy and satisfaction of having succeeded.