It happens so quickly. The streets look less and less familiar. The houses suddenly seem foreign. The people are all strangers. Your phone is out of range and there is no map to be found. There are no grounding points or landmarks to find your way back. Puzzled, you try to make sense of where you are but all you seem to find is more confusion and less certainty.
You grip the steering wheel tighter, take a deep breath and give yourself a pep talk.
“This isn’t so bad, right? People get lost all the time. I just need to try harder.”
You strain your eyes as you study the surroundings. Nothing. Nothing is familiar to you. Your heart is sinking but you try to ignore it. Panic is setting in but you try to override it. Everything was just fine and now nothing is right.
The land of Unknown.
How did we get here? How long will we be here? Or more pressing, perhaps, how do we leave here?
We’ve all been to the land of Unknown before. It’s not a place we would ever choose to visit. It chooses us. Sometimes I wonder if we are more afraid of the loss of control in the land of Unknown or the actual issues that ushered us in.
But what’s different this time is that we are all visiting at the same time. We all feel weary, burdened, overwhelmed, scared and confused. Our neighbors, our friends, our family in our county and across the world, we are all visiting the land of the Unknown. What you are going through many, many people can relate to. There is great unity in the land of Unknown this visit. There isn’t an end date, a game plan or quick fixes but there is power in community.
So, how do we exist in the land of the Unknown?
For me there’s two ways.
First of all, there’s one being that this is not unknown to and that’s God. This isn’t of Him or from Him but it was known to Him. God is in this, through this and on the other side of this. I look at my past visits to the land of the Unknown and even there is the darkest of places, God saw me through. He showed up for us before and He’ll show up for us again.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
God’s got a map of the land of the Unknown. He’s got a bird eye view that works all things out for good for those who place their hope in Him. Placing my hope in someone with the highest vantage point brings me great peace.
Secondly, we have to shift our perspective. That lump in your throat? That pit in your stomach? When I get those, that’s a signal to me that I am looking too far ahead. I need to scale back and ask myself how I can win this day? Somedays it’s how can I win this five minutes?
A wise friend always jokes with me, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You can’t take down an elephant in one bite and you can’t remove yourself from the land of Unknown in one day either.
I know things feel scary right now but focus on what you can control and how you can find light in these darker places. Remember your past visits to the land of the Unknown? They were just that, visits. No one takes up residency in the land of the Unknown. I promise you friends, this too shall pass.