It was pointed out to me by a trusted source that “uncertainty” has settled into my body in unhealthy ways. I wasn’t surprised to hear it. After all, there’s been a lot of uncertainty these past few years for all of us, especially in 2020. In order to loosen the hold uncertainty has had on me, I went first to my mind, of course. That’s just my nature. I started listing all the things in my life and the lives of those I love that feel uncertain right now. It was quite a long list.
In doing that exercise, it came clear why I’ve been struggling. My next step was to let go of the inclination to bear the uncertainties of those around me. They must shoulder their own burdens, but I can walk alongside them and urge them along their respective paths.
We humans come into this world with uncertainty stored deep within us. For one, we know we’re going to die and so are those we love, but we’re not sure when or how. We live with that uncertainty every day. We also come into the world believing we deserve to be loved, but we’re uncertain who will truly provide that love and whether we are worthy. Many of us feel certain we were put here for a purpose, but we vacillate on what that purpose is. Most of us believe we are meant to be happy, but we’re uncertain how to achieve happiness.
Uncertainty, it seems, is our constant companion, but it’s tied to all the things that make our lives worth living: love, purpose, happiness, gratitude for the time we have on this earth. It’s not possible to wish uncertainty away, or to pray it away, or to work it away. It’s built into our bones. But uncertainty can be freeing as well. It can allow us to take important risks. If it’s uncertain whether we’ll survive a jump, it’s just as possible we will as we won’t. If the future is uncertain, it’s as likely we will succeed wildly as it is we will fail miserably.
While it’s possible to feel uncertain about the future and even about the past (that often comes in the form of regret), we can sometimes release uncertainty a bit if we stay in the now. In this moment, for example, I’m certain that I’m breathing, that my husband loves me because he just brought me tea, that writing this post feels purposeful, that I’m happy it’s a nice day as I prepare to wrap this up and take a walk.
Am I speaking from a place of privilege? Yes. I’m well aware there are those for whom this moment feels terrifyingly uncertain, and that uncertainty is weighing heavy on their bodies, minds, and spirits. But in that uncertainty, there is always hope. Leaning into the hope can help release the stress and worry. It won’t take the problems away, but it will give you the strength to work through them.
What is certain is that we all struggle because we all matter. We struggle because we know to our cores, we deserve love and purpose and happiness. And it is certain there will be moments when we experience all three.
I’m acknowledging my uncertainty, but I’m also letting it know it doesn’t have to work so hard to get my attention anymore. I get it. Life is uncertain, and whatever is coming will bring challenges, and hardships, and sorrow. But it will also certainly bring love, and purpose, and happiness.
Go ahead, uncertainty, keep me on my toes. Make my heart race now and then, because then I’ll know I’m alive. Walk beside me, if you must, but don’t expect me to carry you.
Teresa R. Funke
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