I share my friend Cindy’s opinion that March is the most unpredictable month of our year.  She says, “March can be all over the place.” In our neck of the woods, it’s always a guessing game as to what March will look like – especially the weather.  Now we have the extra challenges of truly scary world events.   Unpredictability is often tough for us to face. I have sought something to grab hold of that feels stable, and to find meaning in the chaos.  But I can’t.   I don’t like feeling this way. That’s really not in my DNA. I need some stability.  I need to feel some kind of solid ground in these times and hold tight to “it’s all gonna be OK”, but I’m struggling.

 

We can’t predict the unpredictable, but we can take great comfort knowing that our faith, family, and friends will shepherd us through these turbulent times.  I know that through my own recent experience.  The new year greeted me with a rocky and painful start on a cold and icy day at the lake.  The ghost of black ice had me taking a severe fall that resulted in a hospital visit and a very scary head injury, from which I am still recovering.  That was followed by two unexpected deaths and a stroke among close family members – all within two weeks.  And now March?  I need a break.   Yet nothing is really “settled” for me as March rolls in.  I feel angst in life.  At times, I even feel fear and anger with all the goings-on. After all, the world just powered through two years of COVID but did not get a break and some stability.   Instead, I watch media coverage of Eastern Europe conflict, heartbreak, and tremendous loss of life. Unpredictable, indeed.

 

Yet, some of my “unpredictable” was also packaged as a gift.   For the past several months, I have volunteered as Executive Director for a transitional housing community near my Georgia family.   Jeremiah’s Place is a small, eight-unit homeless community tucked into a little Hallmark town in the mountains.  While small, the program packs a punch when it comes to recovery.  Jeremiah’s Place is not a shelter.  It’s a community offering strict programs for residents on budgeting, life-skills training, job placement, and the identification of various challenges that ultimately got them there.   Jeremiah’s Place has an impressive success rate as guests recover from the trauma of homelessness, restore their family and work responsibilities, and regain stability in their lives.   I have handled most of my Director duties off-site – mainly due to space, yet this position has profoundly changed my life.  I wasn’t planning on this position, but when God puts something in your path well, ya know…

 

If you and I have anxiety over unpredictability in our lives, can we imagine what homeless families experience? Jeremiah’s Place just welcomed a new family to our community. The uncertainty this family faced alone is profound.  This scared mom packed her three young kids and a few belongings that her compact car could hold and fled from a distant state, where abuse had dominated her life for years.  She was alone, with little cash, few belongings, and no support. Yet Mom faced her fears and tomorrow’s unpredictability with a strength that I doubt I would have had.    Mom had faith that would move a Georgia mountain and met her uncertainty with a tremendous will. She was determined to give her children the better lives they deserved. It was truly inspiring.  I rest better today knowing that they are safe, with Mom cherishing her second chance at life.

 

I was taught that meaning and purpose are the wellsprings of hope.  Knowing what meaning we have for others and feeling a sense of purpose can ground us better than anything else.  Sociologists tell us that we humans are best motivated by our significance to other people. We’ll work harder and longer and better—and feel happier about the work we are doing—when we know that someone else is benefiting from our efforts.  I’ll take that during these unpredictable times and hold tight to those thoughts as I (and we) move toward more solid ground.

 

While my heart is still sad and my thoughts are often filled with worry, I feel the promise of spring.  Soon we will open our windows and breathe fresh, crisp air without fear.  The sun and showers will paint a magical green canvas across our southern Appalachians. The birds will sing, and the flowers will bloom.    The sweet sound of kids frolicking around the grounds of Jeremiah’s Place will fill my heart with joy and hope.   And while I wade through the turbulence of March, I will stay focused on making someone’s life a little better. I will note the positive changes every day and will certainly pay more attention to the miracles along the way.  With the promise of spring, I can better handle the unpredictable.   I hope that you can, too.

 

Photo by Lorna Dancey. LornaDancey.com