“Morning, everyone! It’s nice to see so many of you interested in this class. Don’t worry—orientation will be quick. There’s no syllabus. Show up as often as you feel like this semester. We’ll have an exam at some point that will involve a lot of material we may or may not have covered. I’m not sure how much of your overall grade it will be or how it will be scored. There will probably be other things you have to do to pass, but whatever. You’ll find out how you did when we mail you your final grades. Good luck!”
Is anyone else hyperventilating?
Ludicrous as this scenario sounds, the ambiguity is exactly what many planting wives experience as a daily reality. Our role may change ten times in the first few years of the church’s life. The personal space we call home can house team meetings and services, counseling sessions and church storage. Families we come to love will move in and out, and the faces we see five years in will be vastly different than those that helped us plant the church in the beginning. Funding comes and goes. All of this shifting can add up to a fair amount of anxiety, especially for those of us with a deep need for stability. (I see you, sister. Hang in there.)
In The Hunger Games trilogy, the main character deals with the post-traumatic stress induced by her culture by rehearsing basic facts about herself: “My name is Katniss Everdeen. I’m seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me.”
It’s not as though we as planters’ wives have fought anyone to the death or had our loved ones stolen away by the enemy (at least not most of us), but the concept applies. In this life that shifts as easily as the sand on the ocean floor, a girl needs solid footing, reminders to jar us back to a firm identity. Like Katniss, I’ve found it helpful to recite what I know is true when ambiguity crushes inward.
1. Jesus never changes. He is sure, faithful, strong, and exactly as sovereign in this moment as He’s always been. His love for me is the same, which is all my soul needs to know 99% of the time.
2. God’s plans are good. I might not feel comfortable in this ambiguity, but I can trust that my Daddy knows what He’s doing. He’s still working for His glory and my good, and He’s never failed yet.
3. If He called me to it, He’ll see me through it. I’m not expected to put on my big girl pants and push my way forward. I’m not alone. God is guiding in His way and in His timing—both of which are better than my own.
4. This is the Lord’s church, not mine, my husband’s, our funding partners’, or the enemy’s. Each night I can lay my head down and rest knowing that ultimately, God will build His church. I don’t have to. (And I don’t have to manipulate my husband or worry my heart out in the meantime.)
5. The gospel is about Christ’s goodness in my place. The reason I loathe ambiguity so much is because if I understand what’s expected of me, I can get it right. I can perform. (I can get that A, dang it! Just tell me the rubric!) So angst caused by the fog of not knowing is my red flag: I’m trying to build a record of getting it right again.
Losing ambiguity is one of the things I’m really looking forward to when I step into glory, but until then, I have to learn to cope with it. (And isn’t God good? He’s put me in ministry with so many fabulous opportunities to practice! Insert cheeky grin.) In time and under the direction of the Spirit, coping transforms into thriving, and that’s a beautiful place to be. The pressure is off. The A+++++ has been made and given before the foundation of the world. All that’s left is to enjoy the ride.
What true things help your heart when ambiguity strikes?