When The Future Seems Overwhelming

We all know that the future can seem really overwhelming at times - there’s so much that is unknown and unexpected… especially when you’re in your twenties and things seem to be constantly changing and shifting.

I’ve realized that when I think about the future, I get most freaked out when I get ahead of myself. I start panicking because I don’t know where I want to intern next summer, what job I’ll want after law school, where I’m going to live in five years, how I’m going to make a difference in the world, if I’ll ever get married, etc... It seems dramatic, but you get the picture. 

I get 20 steps ahead and think about how much unknown there is which is pretty scary. But, what I’ve realized is that we aren’t meant to live 20 steps ahead. God promises to show us the next step, not what’s around the corner.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” If you’ve ever held a lantern or a flashlight at night, you know that it only shows you what’s directly ahead of you.

You can’t see where the path leads or what’s a mile ahead of you, but you can see right where you’re stepping and that’s really all you need to keep going.

I used to think that knowing the next step meant knowing the next big step, like my next job or move. And a lot of the times we do realize what those big leaps are, but most of the time it’s simply knowing what little steps to take on a day-to-day basis.

I recently read a quote in Ann Voskamp’s book “The Broken Way” that said “Life isn’t overwhelming when you simply understand how to serve in this minute.”

I thought this was a really freeing way to look at life, on a moment-by-moment basis that takes the focus and pressure off of future-us and instead asks, what can we do right now to glorify God?

It reminds me of the verse “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). It’s a good reminder that glorifying God doesn’t have to be full of grand gestures and huge adventures. It simply means living out each day, moment-by-moment, with a greater degree of intentionality that extends beyond just going through the motions. It’s a way of finding purpose in the now instead of looking ahead to the future for meaning.   

So when I find the wheels of my mind going 100 miles a minute worrying about what’s down the path, I reel it back in by asking myself, what can I do to serve a greater purpose today? Can I be a little kinder, send an encouraging message to a friend, look for things in my day to be thankful for, or offer to help someone? It helps bring my focus to what I can do with what’s right in front of me instead of worrying about what I can’t see.

While I think it’s great to plan and prepare for things that are ahead and work toward goals, the future can’t be the place you park your mind. And the good thing is that no matter what the future holds, God is already there and He tells us not to worry about it like Matthew 6:34 says.


Ashley // @ayyhawk