Sustaining Hope in the Unknown

May 2, 2022

Truth be told, I am kicking myself for agreeing to write on this particular topic for this series on Sustaining Hope. A couple months ago when I put my name down for this and typed the words “finding hope in the unknown” as my choice of topics, I thought I would have figured out a bunch of stuff by the time I actually sat down at my computer. I thought I would be ready and willing by now to share all of my newly found wisdom with you.

Instead, I am still in the midst of many unknowns. Probably more unknowns than I have ever encountered before. At least more unknowns than I thought I would have when the calendar changed from 2021 to 2022 and I dreamed the dreams of a person ready for a new year ahead. In some ways, that may make me the worst person to write this post. In other ways, it might make me the best. I hope the latter is true. 

When I used to teach math, I would say: “I am at my best when I am learning the information right alongside the student. When I am in the midst of trying to understand the material myself, I can see the pitfalls students will make. I may even fall right into them as well, and together we can guide each other out.” I believed when I was struggling alongside, my understanding and empathy for my students was greater. 

I am not on the other side of learning about how to have hope in the midst of the unknown. In that way, I am not the expert that can give you some rearview knowledge. Instead, I am learning it alongside all of you. I am falling right into the pits with you and digging myself out of them, too. Maybe there is comfort in that. 

I hope so. 

I thought I’d share with you what I am afraid of right now, in case it resonates:

  • I’m afraid of staying here. I fear being stuck in the in-between surrounded by neverending unknowns. 
  • I’m afraid of rushing out of here. I’m afraid I’ll reach a point of being so done with the unknowns that I leap towards something, anything known… even if it’s not exactly right for me. 
  • I’m afraid of trusting myself. I find it difficult to trust my intuition, especially in these moments and especially when it leads me towards something new. I find myself asking, “But what if this something new isn’t better after all?”

But there are also things I am holding onto:

  • I’m holding onto history. Every time I have been stuck in the in-between, every time I have faced any big unknown, God has always led me out of it to somewhere better. 
  • I’m holding onto the light. Whenever I think of facing big unknowns, I imagine anytime I have been stuck in a dark room unable to see even my hand in front of my face. Even in the darkest of rooms, however, my eyes have always adjusted enough to see my hand. Even in the darkest of rooms, I have always found the light. 
  • Finally, I’m holding onto a glimmer of hope. Hope is such an unexpected grace for me right now that God is truly showering me with, even if I can’t always see it. Hope is the subtle thing that prompted me to write for weeks (almost subconsciously) in my examens: “A bigger invitation is brewing.” Hope is the thing that never fails to multiply in me over time, especially in times like these. It comes in like a thief in the darkest of nights and illuminates my soul. I feel it in the words of mentors and friends listening to me and encouraging me. I feel it in the bright lights of my children who never fail to show up with joy to every new challenge ahead. I feel it seep into me every time I pause to fold my hands in prayer. I feel it every time I place my hands upon these keys.

So even if you don’t feel it right now, don’t give up on finding hope. God created me and you for something special. Even if we feel stuck in the darkest room trying desperately to see our hand in front of our face, God is not done yet. 

There is such great light ahead.

Go Deeper:

If you are looking for a prayer or two to guide you towards hope in the unknown, consider these I’ve written during my own current search for hope: 

Also, check out these great Into the Deep pieces:

Photo by Kyle Glenn on unsplash.com 

 

Gretchen Crowder has served as a campus minister and Ignatian educator for the Jesuit Dallas community for the last fifteen years and counting. She is also a freelance writer and speaker. She has a B.S. in mathematics and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame as well as an M.T.S. from the University of Dallas. She resides in Dallas, TX with her husband, three boys, and an ever-growing number of pets.

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