I remember the moment clearly, as I am sure many of you who have stood on the edge of a life-changing experience do. The day started out just like any other, aside from a scheduled ultrasound appointment. Many hours and physicians later, I found myself wavering between two halves – gratitude and fear. Thankful to have this little one growing inside of me, but so afraid of what the images were revealing. That day I decided to control what I could. I chose to not let fear consume me and it has been a daily, thoughtful and purposeful act ever since. I would love to say that I have mastered this, but I have not. It truly requires a dedicated intention.
It is too easy to fall into the “what ifs,” and allow your mind to spin, robbing you of the present moment. Taking time to reflect and prepare for situations is worthwhile, but when fear of the unknown begins to command more of your attention than it ought, it might be time to give yourself a time out. Are there patterns you can identify? Does your mind wander most at night? Do you find yourself fretting when having a spare moment in line at the grocery store? Do your thoughts run wild as you wait to be seen at the clinic?
So, how to calm that runaway brain? Try journaling some of the thoughts you repeat most often or find the most troubling; identify someone to talk with – a friend, a pastor, a colleague, a relative; work to actively identify when you're mind-wandering rather than being present in the here and now; decide what you have control over and let go of the things you don’t; or simply change your surroundings to invite a new perspective to seep in.
There is beauty in the unknown, I truly believe this. My son’s diagnosis is rare and his capabilities are unknown. It provides us a license to try new things, to not be bogged down with statistics and to map unchartered territory. The unknown, while at times scary, can provide hope. It can provide strength. It can provide a call to be present and to be grateful.
How do you live with unknowns? How are you living a life of gratitude? How do you calm your fears? We would love to have you share.
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