Letting Go of Fear of the Unknown and Anxiety {Day 14}

by | Oct 14, 2013 | Uncategorized


“It’s our fear of the unknown and our fear of being wrong that create most of our conflict and anxiety.”

~Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

My daughter started measuring the square footage of her dorm room before she received the acceptance letter to the school of her choice. Visualizing furniture placement, she’s already imagining herself living independently as a college student. It’s the topic of our conversations lately–the few short months she has left with us before leaving the nest.

Last week, four of us were spread out around a large semi-circle booth meant for eight at our favorite Mexican restaurant, where the owners know us by name and anticipate our choices from the menu. We were talking about financial aid and scholarships between bites of salty tortilla chips and spicy green salsa. I was repeating a conversation I had earlier in the day with her admissions advisor from SCAD when I asked H the dreaded question.

Do we actually know how much it costs for her to go to SCAD?

I didn’t really want to know, I’d been avoiding the question for weeks.

Of course, she knew the answer; she knows the dimensions of her potential dorm room for heaven’s sake.

“It costs $35,000 a year and that doesn’t include room and board or books,” she responded while rolling her eyes. She thought I already knew the answer based on previous conversations I had actually tuned out.

“That doesn’t include incidentals either,” H chimed in.

I didn’t want to know the answer because I knew what it meant for me. H and I have talked about it but saying it out loud means I have to own it, take responsibility.

I have to get a job.

I haven’t worked full-time since she was born 18 years ago.

Can I be honest? This fills me with anxiety.

I feel incompetent and faithless, like I have soul dementia when I start thinking about the details of this. Even though I’m a firsthand witness to countless miracles – not just coincidences – regarding unexpected provision, I feel like I’m six again. I want to crawl into my Grandpa’s lap, curl myself up in the fetal position and let him stroke my hair while he whispers loving assurance over me.


A few days later, I closed my eyes to pray and pictured myself sitting on Jesus’ lap.  I couldn’t stay there, even mentally, for more than one minute. I wanted to crawl down, grab my list and show him all the ways I have everything figured out, prove I’m a capable, responsible adult.

I don’t know how to accept grace for myself but I can do it for you all day.

What does loving myself look like when I’m anxious about being a mom who needs to provide for her daughter and feels terribly inadequate?

I let go of an insatiable need to cling to certainty about an uncertain future. Remind myself that while I have anxiety and fear about unknown outcomes, He does not. I filled out all of my own college applications and put myself through college without help from my parents.

His faithfulness isn’t selective.

He doesn’t expect you and I to have everything figured out; we will be continual students. Sometimes my classroom is an over-sized booth covered in granules of salt and drips of salsa.  I will always have more questions than answers. You?



Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown as we let go of certainty and comparison this week to cultivate intuition, faith, and creativity. This is day 14 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.

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  1. pastordt

    I do love booths in Mexican restaurants. I have every confidence that you will find a way to do everything that this transition asks of you, Shelly. Haven’t a blue what it will look like, but i know it will come. Blessings to you as you wait and ponder and pray.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for your confidence and prayers Diana, I appreciate you so much. And I am expectant about the way it comes. He often surprises us in wonderful ways.

  2. Elizabeth Stewart

    Shelly, I so relate to your feelings of being overwhelmed, the worry, the anxiety. Mine comes when I think about retirement and what the future holds financially for us. Yes, I can look back and see how God took care of our three daughters when it came time for each one to go to college. That same God will have to take care of us. In the meanwhile, I’m trying to stay on His lap.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I know that one too Elizabeth, as I watch those a few years ahead of us on that journey. Praying God will provide miraculously for you.

  3. kelly

    yikes. me too. i would really rather step in to the ministry zone where i know how i fit, and the insecurity that my brain stem issue has lest me even LESS to offer a potential employer. it is so uncomfortable in some ways. i just created my resume over the weekend and in some ways it feels like i am making stuff up, because i feel so insecure, but everything on there is true. i will pray for you, and know you will pray for me. i just lookes at that pic of ella, murielle, isabella and clarice in the crib together. so grateful we are still walking and growing in grace together.

    • Shelly Miller

      Kelly, I haven’t heard you mention the brain stem issue before. I guess we need to have a chat. It sounds like you and I are in the same boat as our kids approach this season huh? It seems like yesterday that our girls were lined up on the couch as babies doesn’t it? Yes, I will be praying for you too Kelly, lets hold each other up.

  4. Mary Gemmill

    Shelly- I pray God BLESSES you, and your family, with abundant provision for every need and gifts to give from the over-flow. I sense He is enlarging your heart so you can comprehend his marvelous love for you and your family. I know this fear – but throw yourself afresh on God’s mercy, and wait and see the salvation of the Lord.

    • Shelly Miller

      Your comment is a gift to me Mary. I have written it down and feel God’s presence in “enlarging my heart so I can comprehend his marvelous love for all of us.” Thank you so much.

  5. Vicki Kessler

    “Letting go”and “letting God” is indeed the path to follow. Remembering that there is no unknown to God is something we all must try to remember each day. He is our God of provision!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m thankful that there are no unknowns to God. I was pondering Psalm 104 the other day and quickly put in my place. Good perspective comes in reading the Psalms.

  6. Carolyn Counterman

    I need to find ways to help provide for my family. I feel totally incompetent and I am finding it very hard to trust. I’m sure that is not what God wants for me, but it is honestly where I’m at today.

    • Shelly Miller

      Praying for you Carolyn, that God would reveal himself in your current situation. I think its so very hard to trust when we are right in the middle of crisis, needing to make some decisions.

  7. Janet

    Do you have to get a fulltime job? There are schools that don’t cost as much. There are scholarships and loans that your daughter could get. Maybe your anxiety is because you feel boxed in, forced to one solution. Your daughter could work fulltime for a couple years and save her money for school. Maybe you and your husband can determine how much money you can give your daughter for college, and let her work around that. I think there is a reason for your anxiety. Both my children graduated from college. One of them used the money we could give plus my parents could give, $25,000 total, and she graduated as an RN from a community college. The other child, used the same amount of money, plus school loans, and has graduated as a Public Health professional with a Master’s degree, and school loans to pay back. They made their choices, and we gave what we felt comfortable doing. They both graduated and have jobs in their fields. We recently were able to retire. Just sayin’.

  8. DeanneMoore

    “I don’t know how to accept grace for myself but I can do it for you all day.” You won’t be surprised when I tell you I have said that a million times. Some time ago on the journey, I have learned the importance of receiving grace as well giving it. You know you have my prayers on this one and I am agreeing with Mary, praying that Scripture over your life. You may not built much of a traditional resume but you’ve got the goods that you are going to need for what God has in store for you. I am uncertain what that will look like, but I am certain the provision will come for Murielle and for you. Thanks for you prayers for Luke. We are praying about a “gap year” but living with uncertainty as well, wrestling to trust, and feeling the need to go eat a chili relleno with rice and beans. 🙂

  9. agracefulgirl

    “It’s our fear of the unknown and our fear of being wrong that create most of our conflict and anxiety.”

    Um, YES! That’s me! The last year of my life has been filled with unknown, fear, and MUCH anxiety and worry. Sometimes I’m convinced that God is watching me and shaking His head… When will I ever learn to trust? When…?

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