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  • Writer's pictureAnn Skalaski

Holding On or Being Held?

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

By Ann

Here we go, again!

We are officially “in transition” ---the ubiquitous term coaching families use to describe their move from one job to the next. Another move instigated by the yearly coaching carousel which starts spinning just as the holidays arrive.

This is our seventh transition, but only four have involved a season of unemployment. These are the transitions that have stretched and challenged me the most.

Our first came when our staff was fired at the end of our first (and only) season in the NFL, less than a year after moving back to our home state. The boxes were freshly unpacked. The thought of moving again was challenging to say the least! Stretching me to trust God’s plans over our plans.

A couple of years later my challenge was celebrating Thanksgiving just a few days after our staff was fired. Giving thanks in all circumstances is hard. But I found that I can be sad and still be grateful. My gratitude doesn’t erase my hurt, and my sadness doesn’t change my gratitude. God is still good.

Years later, when our staff was fired at the conclusion of the best season in school history, it felt unfair. Challenging me in new ways. Stretching me come to terms with God’s sovereign rule over the decisions of men. In the same way that Joseph recognized that what his brothers meant for harm, God meant for good (Gen. 50:20 ESV), After a brief struggle, I accepted that God was ultimately in control of the Athletic Director’s decision.

It’s okay to not be okay

There was a time when I thought trusting God meant I should be able to gracefully handle the stress of unemployment, the sadness of leaving friends and the strain of packing, moving, and starting over with a smile on my face! I thought it was my job to assure everyone that I was doing fine.

But I was not fine. At times I was overwhelmed and felt like I was holding on by a thread. Holding on was exhausting.

Some relief was found within my closest circle of friends. Those with whom I could comfortably share that I was not okay. In fact, I was barely “hanging in there.” These friends gave me the space to mourn and share my grief while still acknowledging the truths we hold dear. God is sovereign. God is good. He is working behind the scenes for our good and his glory. He loves us.

I am learning to live in the tension of knowing these truths and experiencing deep disappointment and hurt over hard circumstances.

Being Held

But as we enter our fourth season of unemployment, I find my perspective shifting in a new way.

Too tired to hang on, I have let go. No longer holding on or “hanging in there”….but being held.

Isaiah 41:10, NIV says:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

In their song, “Just Be Held” Casting Crowns says it this way:

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away

You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.

I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.

Over the holidays, I read a Christmas blog that gave me a new picture of being held by Jesus. The author asked herself. “What would I have done if I had been invited to join the shepherds and be with the holy family?” Her response was, “I’m a mom and a grandma. I would have wanted to do the same thing I did when I first held all my “babies.” I would have been enthralled with the tiny hand of Christ. I would have placed my finger in his tiny palm and smiled with joy when his little fingers instantly wrapped around mine.

I met my granddaughter for the first time in December, just days after she was born. While snuggling with her, her tiny fingers wrapped around my finger forging a connection that will never be broken.

This Christmas, experiencing another unwanted transition, I symbolically placed my finger in the hand of the baby in the manger. Trusting that he will hold tight to me. Carrying me through as he has done in the past.

Whatever trial you are currently facing or may face as the New Year unfolds, know that it’s okay to not be okay. Rather than “hanging in there” let go and trust that Jesus will hold you.

Happy New Year!

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