As we sat at breakfast overlooking the pool and the beach, we almost found ourselves in an infinite loop. The magnitude of our quest was bluntly in our face. We were a long ways from anyone we knew or anything that was familiar. The clichés of “we are not in Kansas” and “strangers in a strange land” fit too well. Even though one of us looked the part, we knew the truth.
Being caught in a loop of despair is far too easy. Breakfast conversations, work challenges, and problem solving are natural gateways to being caught in an endless list of questions that demand answers. My natural (preferred) way of solving problems starts with the list of unknowns. Do I get them? Do I understand the complexity of the situation that they hint of? Is my grasp of the details clear?
I was recently introduced to a different way of thinking about this. Initially I thought it was a new concept. As I read old stories, I find others have used this approach across history. When Paul was confronted with the impossible, he reminded others of the warnings and lost insights. The situation was complex. Even though the situation was clear, the problem has many different angles to it. His response was a call to look at the present differently. “There’s no need to dwell on that [the past and the problems it represents] now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed.” (Acts 27.22)
Over breakfast, we spoke candidly of the challenge. We looked at the present, realizing that we could not solve our fears. We were holding an invitation to step out into the unknown. It was merely an option. We could reach for our goal or struggle with the problems at hand.
In hindsight, whatever hesitation we had was short. As we stepped out into the sun, walking into the unknown, hope etched its signature on my soul.