How to Face an Unknown Future with Confidence

Last week, I accompanied my oldest son on a field trip to the middle school. We listened to a short presentation in the auditorium, then took a tour led by student ambassadors. Six different elementary schools feed into this middle school and the building was sized accordingly. We walked up and down stairs, down several corridors, into classrooms and courtyards.

It was intimidating, and I’m not even the one who’s going there in the fall! I kept an eye on my son, who seemed to take it all in quietly. At home that night, I asked him what he thought about the middle school field trip. He said the tour made him more excited to go there, but also more nervous.

I could relate. I thought back to all the times I’ve been “the new girl” in school throughout my missionary kid life, bouncing around between different parts of France, California, and Germany. Transitioning to a new place is just as exciting as it is scary.

It made me thankful for the teachers who organized the field trip so that the incoming class could take a tour and get a taste of what they can expect in the fall.

When you’re in school, those transitions are predictable (soon enough, they’ll be touring the high school—gulp!) In adulthood, we can more or less expect that natural transitions will come as we age into different life stages.

I turned 40 this week, but I didn’t have a tour guide to answer my questions:

  • Is this really the “best” decade or are people just being nice?
  • How much longer will I be healthy enough to hike long distances?
  • How much longer will I be taller than my boys?
  • How and when will I use this Masters’ degree I’m working on?
how to face an unknown future with confidence

Holding on to what we can know

When Jesus rose from the dead and prepared to leave this earth, he didn’t tell his disciples exactly what would happen next, didn’t share the game plan for who was going where and doing what. He gave them some vague instructions in Luke 24:49 before his ascension:

“And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

We are readers who have the gift of 2000 years of hindsight, so we know Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit, but I can imagine the disciples might have been confused.

As I step into the next decade of my own life, I have the advantage of some hindsight as I consider the years behind me, but there is more I do not know. There is no preview day organized for me, led by a personal tour guide. All I know for sure is that God will be with me every step of the way, even when I can’t see where I’m going, or the hallways look intimidating.

In his memoir Everything Sad is Untrue about growing up in Oklahoma as a refugee from Iran, Daniel Nayeri says: 

“What you believe about the future will change how you live in the present.”

His poignant statement rings true. If I believe that my unknown future is in the hands of a loving, faithful, ever-present God, it will affect the way I live my days.

There is no reason to dread my kids’ teenage years, or becoming an empty-nester, or caring for aging parents, or my own eventually-declining health. There’s no reason to be anxious about the unforeseen twists and turns that occur in every life. Psalm 139 assures me that God holds all my days in his hands, and I can walk forward in the comfort of that truth.

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*Feature Photo by Yaoqi on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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