Focusing all of our attention on what “could” happen won’t solve the situation.
“You can’t allow yourself to live in the hypothetical.”
It was a simple phrase uttered my best friend’s fiancé, David, during a conversation about finding a new apartment after my current lease finished. Yet, the thought resonated has resonated with me ever since, because I realized its application is almost universal.
David admitted that this is easier said than done. We all have gone through seasons of uncertainty. During these seasons, we conjure up good, bad, and ugly outcomes for the decision we might make, and most of the time that leads us into paralyzing fear and doubt.
Some of us like to try to deploy damage control before anything even happens. We start planning for the worst possible outcome, and then the worst doesn’t happen. It’s usually then that we realize how much time and energy we’ve wasted stressing out.
Acknowledging your fear of the unknown is a simple way to shift from the hypothetical into the present. Instead of getting lost in the “disaster prep.” (“if this happens, then I’ll do A, B, and C, but if this other thing happens, I’ll adjust my plans this way”) acknowledge that the uncertainty you face is unnerving. And that’s OK.
Once you have acknowledged your fear, begin to pray. If you’re having doubts about whether or not you feel God is with you in these moments, or you’re questioning whether he cares about your situation, talk through these emotions with him. The book of Psalm is a perfect example of honest prayers. The psalmists wrote prayers of worship and joy, but also prayers struggling with doubt, anger, and sadness. God delights in the honesty of our prayers.
Lastly, when shifting your focus from the hypothetical, be sure to let go of all that is beyond your control. This doesn’t mean that we should be less mindful, and just wait around for all of the details to magically fall into place. However, there are certain things—especially situations that involve other people—that we cannot force. While it may feel a bit overwhelming at first, it should lift some of the weight off our shoulders.
Maybe, just enough for us to pay attention to the present.