We all experience times of uncertainty and anxiety. To whom do you turn when you experience those moments? Who is your go-to person? Is it a mentor, a coach, a counselor, a colleague, or a friend? To whom do you turn when you need someone to journey with you through the difficult moments of life?
Hope for the Future
In the past two months, I have received phone calls from persons I have not seen in years. Each person needed someone to walk with them through a particular crisis.
One confessed a long-time battle with depression and needed someone to listen. Another was facing life-changing surgery and needed assurance to step into whatever the future might be. And still, another was experiencing grief in the unexpected death of a family member.
In listening, I discovered that each person needed someone to come alongside them. They were looking to be lifted above the anxiety of the moment. Each one needed assistance navigating the barriers of uncertainty. They needed someone to journey with them to the place they felt they could take their next step with confidence, trusting whatever was ahead. In my thinking, each person was seeking some hope for the future.
Walking in Hope
I am in contact with each of them weekly. Out of love and appreciation for each of them, I continue to walk with them. I have the opportunity to ask about therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, and a grieving process. My questions are based upon what each person has said they would do to get to a place of stability. I have the privilege of walking with them, offering what care and support I can, to assist them to reach a place of hope.
Friends Who Carry You
In the second chapter of Mark, there is a story of a man who was paralyzed. His friends were convinced if they could get him to Jesus, he could be healed of his paralysis. When they arrived at the place where Jesus was teaching, so many people had gathered, they couldn’t even get close to Jesus. How could they carry him through the crowd?
Did they give up? Not according to the story. Can you imagine the conversation? One of the friends says, “Let’s lower him from the ceiling.” Another says, “We would have to go up on the roof to do that.” And another says, “I like it. Let’s do it.”
If it was like most houses in that part of the world, the roof was flat. It might have even been a place where people could sit during the day or in the evening. I can see them carrying their friend to the roof and beginning to remove the roof floor. Their goal was to get him to Jesus. So, when they made an opening large enough, they lowered their friend on his mat to the feet of Jesus. It is when Jesus saw their faith that the healing began.
Filled with Hope
Wow! A man who could not move on his own had friends who came alongside him. The goal was to get him to Jesus who could help him move on his own again. So, they pick him up and carry him to Jesus. On their way, they faced several obstacles. The first obstacle was the crowd was so big they could not get to Jesus.
They did not give up and sit the man down. They found a way around the crowd. They lifted their friend above the obstacle of the crowd and carried him to the roof. It was there they faced their second obstacle. They would have to make a hole in the roof. So, they did.
They reached their goal by lowering their friend, on his mat, to the feet of Jesus. When Jesus saw that they lived out their faith by coming alongside and assisting the man who could not move on his own, healing and hope came to the man. He was able to move on his own again.
Times of Uncertainty
We all experience times of uncertainty and anxiety. Times when we feel paralyzed. We don’t know what to do. At times, even afraid to make a move because we are so uncertain. My question is, “to whom do you turn when you experience those moments? Who is your go-to person? To whom do you turn when you need someone to journey with you through the difficult moments of life?
Your One Person
To be an effective and courageous leader, you need at least one person you can trust to walk with you through the moments when you are paralyzed, and you can’t make a move on your own. Moments when you are:
- So totally preoccupied with your own uncertainty, pain, and anxiety that you can’t see beyond what you are facing.
- So weary that you want to do anything other than what you are doing.
- Feeling like there is no future and that things are not going to get any better.
- So overwhelmed that you want someone to care but no one is there.
- Feeling like you have lost control of your life, your work, or your family.
- Feeling your prayers are going nowhere
- Thinking that your experience does not match what you have been taught about God.
Who is Your Person?
To some of you, the above sounds overly dramatic. To others of you, you have been hanging on, hoping (wishful thinking) to get through today and that tomorrow might be better. Remember, who you are is how you lead. As a leader, you need at least one person you can trust to walk with you through these moments of uncertainty and anxiety. You might have had different persons for different stages of your life. Today, who is your go-to person?
Several years ago, I faced a time of uncertainty so great that I could not see beyond myself or the moment of pain I was experiencing. I was uncertain about the future. I felt hurt, confused, and alone. It was at the moment of my greatest distress, a colleague and friend stepped in to help me face my future. I was not offered a lot of sympathy or unrealistic platitudes. I don’t ever remember hearing the words, “Call me if you need me.” What I do remember hearing was, “You know where to find me.”
What I got was a person of faith, a Jesus follower, who allowed me to be me at the moment of my greatest need. She created a space for me to talk about my anxiety, disappointments, pain, and fear. Although there were times she did not agree with my assessments, she never passed judgment. She listened compassionately and at appropriate times would ask me the questions I needed to answer for clarity and healing. She offered Christ to me by becoming the embodiment of God’s grace. I began to trust that I was not alone in my uncertainty.
A New Story
The space created and the grace offered allowed me to move beyond the moments of my anxiety to see new possibilities. I began to look beyond what I had experienced and to create a new story for myself.
I began to heal. My friend provided several ways for me to put into practice the new possibilities that began to emerge. Plans for reflection, prayer, and conversation. She challenged me to look beyond myself to see what new things God might be doing in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I was invited to put my faith into action by looking beyond myself.
I believe it was at that point that I began to rediscover God’s desire to use me to make a difference in the places I encountered the people God wanted me to love. It was through the engagement of this colleague and friend in my life, this Jesus follower, that helped me see the hope in the midst of my uncertainty. There were no easy answers. In fact, there were no answers at all.
She came alongside me at the moment of great anxiety, embodied God’s love, and journeyed with me through difficult moments. She helped me see what God might have in store for the future. She was an instrument of God’s hope in the midst of my uncertainty.
Who is Your Go-To Person?
So, who is your go-to person in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety?
This week, contact that person. Have an informal conversation about how you are feeling and thinking about things. At the very least, let them know how much you appreciate them and their caring support.
When you need and want assistance, remember that Sara Thomas and I are with you on your leadership journey. When we can be of encouragement or help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are ready to assist you with insights and resources in becoming a courageous leader.
Check out LeaderCast. This week Sara Thomas and I have a conversation with Sam Heaton about his experience of leading, loving, and living as a follower of Jesus in the midst of seasons filled with change. Tune in and listen to Episode 187: Sabbath, Technology, and Fun in Ministry. To become a regular LeaderCast listener, subscribe and receive a new episode each week as well as catch up on past episodes. LeaderCast is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the leadership challenges of 2021.