By: Lindsay Sullivan
A buzzword of our 21st century times.
The word seems to stumble out of our mouths from casual conversation to the making of our 5-year plans, even prayers.
Pre-pandemic, it became a focal point for me. Something I centered myself around. I pursued clarity with zeal, expecting her to be a gift bestowed to me from passionate “obedience.”
It wasn’t until around the time of October 2019 as I sat across my therapist, the emdr alternating pulsars still in hand with tear-stained cheeks and a deep exhale, we came to discover the truth that just might set me free
“I can feel safe in the unknown.”
It was around this time my life started to unravel into what felt like chaos. As I type this post-2020, I’m unsure if I should giggle or cry - I had NO idea what was to come. Nevertheless, it was a season where I knew I didn’t like the story I was writing with my life at the time and felt my ink had run dry to continue to cultivate much more for change. I felt lost and confused. I felt out of control. I didn’t feel any sense of direction.
I wanted clarity.
I realized I had lived most of my life believing that I must always be in control of my life, that’s the responsible way, isn’t it? That’s what “coming into adulthood” looks like, right? Being in control, being sure of oneself. Always having a plan and following through. Seeking clarity and sinking into the comfort that came right along with it. The unknown was a big, dark scary place. The unknown was irresponsible. The unknown was wrong, and quite simply couldn’t be trusted.
As I whirled through the spiral of lies, unpacking each of them only to discover their fallacies, my eyes were opened. And it’s been a year and some odd months since we’ve collectively stumbled our way through collective tragedy that I’m only starting to discover and actually live the truth of what the unknown can represent.
I flipped open to scripture, frantically searching for characters attributing anything of significance to this term “clarity.”
Esther? David? John? Paul?
I came to discover that nowhere in this Book compiled of wisdom, truths and revelations do these prominent characters, noted for their faith, ever seriously come to a point in life where they reached this thing of “clarity.”
I only found, time and time again, the terms “faith” and “trust” along with phrases such as the well-known “supernatural peace which transcends understanding.”
The more I learn about faith and peace and how these ambiguously supernatural experiences really look and feel like when lived, I realize that I can very easily create an idol out of clarity in this culture of 5-year plans, #goals and a well intended drive toward “success.” But if not kept in check, this can spiral into doubting God’s presence in my life and circumstance which leads to fear and a desire for control.
When I take mental notes about Abraham's life and those alike, the biggest theme that jumps out of the page and makes itself known is this: trusting God with all that doesn’t simply doesn’t make sense - the act of giving over control to the One who has had it from the very beginning.
So with that, I’ll end with a story that I can only tip my hat to the wonderful Brennen Manning from a book that has carried me through so many seasons of challenge “Ruthless Trust:”
“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at ‘the house of the dying’ in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
‘What do you want me to pray for?’ she asked.
He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: ‘Pray that I have clarity.’
She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.’
When he asked her why, she said,
‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said,
‘I have never had clarity. What I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”