Whenever I ask my four-year-old nephew a question that he doesn’t know the answer to, he responds by saying, “I can’t know.”
The first time I heard him say this, everything I learned about growth mindsets during my Intro to Education class in college came flooding back to me. I wanted to tell him, “Yes, you can! Learning is great!”
But recently, I’ve been returning to that mantra over and over again, and I’ve found a lot of wisdom and peace in it.
I am someone who wants to plan everything for the next five years, right now. I am always one step ahead of myself, which involves thinking about a lot of hypothetical scenarios that usually end up nothing like reality. This makes decision making and transitions extra stressful – which are things I’ve been doing a lot this year, since I am preparing to move to Boston to go to graduate school.
After I sent in my initial applications, I kept asking myself, “Which schools am I going to get in to?”
I can’t know.
After I got into schools, I started wondering how going to each of them would affect my life several years down the road, whether I would make good friends there, and whether my husband would be able to find a job in each city.
I can’t know.
Now, as I am looking for an apartment in Boston, I am trying to picture how our life will look living in this new space, and although there are some things I can predict – like the fact that I’d like to have some windows in it – in general, I can’t know what this next chapter of life has in store until I am living it.
A couple of weeks ago, the Gospel on Sunday included the passage where Jesus tells His disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)
We can’t know what God has planned for us until He decides to reveal it to us. And in my experience, what He has planned is always a lot better than whatever hypothetical plans I may have made several years previously.
So, instead of spending time stressing about the future, I am trying to be more like my nephew. When I ask myself a question I can’t yet answer, I say, “I can’t know.” Then I set it aside and focus on what I can control – the season I am in right now.