Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty’

Well-Being with Whitney: Silence Speaks During Times of Uncertainty

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Since the old year will soon transition to the new year, this is a great time to reflect on our lives so far and how we hope to change them going forward. It’s also a time of uncertainty that can discourage us, unless we’re intentional about centering ourselves in what never changes — God’s love for us — in the middle of uncertain circumstances. Spending time in silent reflection (through prayer or meditation) empowers us to discover something ironic: silence actually speaks.

What comes through in the middle of silence is God’s voice, which the Bible describes in 1 Kings 19:12 as a “still small voice” or as a “gentle whisper.” It’s an incredibly powerful voice — but quiet enough to inspire us to listen carefully for it. God doesn’t shout at us above the noise of our lives. Instead, he motivates us to pay attention to his messages by speaking constantly in a loving way that we have to care enough to seek out. Silent reflection is like tuning our ears and minds into God’s frequency that has been broadcasting all along.

One winter day seven years ago, I heard God’s whispering voice while taking a silent prayer walk and wrestling with great uncertainty. My husband Russ needed a lifesaving kidney transplant and a great guy from our church had volunteered to donate a kidney to him. Right before the surgery was scheduled, however, the plans fell apart. That unexpected change made it a real possibility that I’d be a widowed single parent sometime soon.

God didn’t answer any of my questions that I asked on that walk, but in the midst of my uncertainty, he did something else: He sent me a powerful sense of peace. I didn’t know what my future held, but I did know that I could trust God, no matter what. When worry crept into my life (as it often did) after that walk, silent prayer and meditation centered my soul back into the place where I could receive God’s peace again.

Thankfully, a few months later Russ underwent a successful kidney transplant thanks to another hero from our church who made the lifesaving gift. But even before I knew what would happen, I felt at peace, because God met me in the silence and spoke just enough for me to renew my trust in him.

Whatever scary uncertainty you’re facing right now, I hope you’ll make some time to reflect on it during silent prayer or meditation and listen for God’s response. Even in silence, he has something to say to you.

Well-Being with Whitney: Walking Helps Thinking — Nature Walks and Stress

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Facing uncertainty can be stressful. What will the lab results reveal about your health? Who will your friends be after you move to a new area? Which job will you end up getting? You may not be able to predict the future, but you can reduce the stress of uncertainty — and other types of stress — by taking a walk outside in nature.

Walking through a natural environment can change brain activity so people don’t ruminate on negative thoughts as much as they did before their nature walks, according to a research study by scientists from Stanford University and other organizations. The study showed that those who walked outside for 90 minutes experienced less stress as a result.

When we’re anxious about an unknown future, it’s easy to ruminate on those worries over and over. Stepping outside to enjoy a walk is a wonderful way to break that negative cycle.

I took a lot of nature walks when my husband was searching for a kidney donor for the lifesaving transplant he needed. Would he find someone willing to help, who was a compatible match, in time? The uncertainty and stress were intense. Prayer helped me cope, but so did walking, and I often found myself drawn to praying while walking outdoors.

On one of my nature walks, a thunderstorm suddenly moved in, and I watched how the trees around me handled the unexpected change. They swayed gracefully back and forth, staying firmly rooted in the ground while they endured rain soaking their trunks and wind blowing off some of their leaves. They stood strong in the face of whatever weather hit them and simply did their best to adjust to it.

Walking relaxed me enough to stop ruminating on my worries and learn a lesson from the trees. Every part of nature is constantly reflecting something about its Creator. As the Bible describes in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…”.

Whenever you must face uncertainty, your stressful emotions may feel like a thunderstorm. But just like the weather, emotions are always changing. So take a nature walk and soak in the simple yet profound lessons that you can learn in the process — about accepting that you don’t know what will happen, but believing that something good will happen if you trust God, yourself, and others on your journey.

My husband did end up getting that lifesaving transplant — thanks to a caring, generous man from our church who donated a kidney to him. Something good can happen in your unknown future, too, when the timing is right. Until then, walking outside can help you move forward with less stress and more confidence.