11 January 2023
Dear Friends in Christ,
Over the course of our lives, many of us experience uncertainty. We may feel uncertain about how we fit into our families, our school community or the workplace. We may experience anxiety because we are uncertain about our future, our health or our relationships. As we begin a new civil year, while we do not know what the future holds, we know WHO holds the future: our loving God. May I suggest that when we are trying to cope with uncertainty, that we let our faith see us through. Here are some suggestions about how we can embrace uncertainty and step into our future with confidence.
First, we must accept the fact that we do not have complete control over what happens in our lives. A Jesuit spiritual director told me years ago that people should focus on what they do have, rather than fixate on what they don’t have. Similarly, I think we need to assess what we can control and let go of our worries about what we cannot control. Everyone experiences uncertainty at various points in life. The important thing is to avoid thinking of the worst scenarios and be led by the hope of what may turn out well.
Second, we need healthy ways to deal with the feelings that uncertainty can stir up inside of us. Healthy ways of coping include praying, exercising, taking a walk, talking with a friend, sleeping, eating a healthy diet or listening to music. Prayer is definitely a good way to respond because communion with God reminds me that I do not face my uncertainties alone. It is important to avoid unhealthy ways of coping, and instead develop good habits that build up our sense of confidence and hope.
Third, we need to accept support as we face our uncertainties. God did not create human beings for isolation but for community. Through all the seasons of life, we need social support. Recently, when I attended a funeral, the woman who was widowed commented on the number of friends and neighbors who attended the visitation. The woman described how during that evening she experienced “the comfort of old friends.” That is a good way to describe the support she received. Our formative years are fast paced, but it is important to take the time to build bonds with people. Take the time to support others in their moments of difficulty and don’t hesitate to let others know if we are needing support.
The words of scripture remind us over and over again that God has created us in love and God is leading us every day. This year, may we turn to God and share with him the uncertainties that weight us down. Let us ask the Lord for the experience of his closeness that we may move forward in hope. May God who has begun such a great work in us, bring it to completion.
Bishop Michael McGovern