Practices that Keep Us Sane in a VUCA World

No doubt our lives are on edge. Just look at the empty grocery shelves. Managers at Costco have to separate people fighting over water. Unwanted, and especially unexpected, change grabs the accompanying fear of the unknown. We panic. We become paralyzed. We tuck in. We grab whatever makes us feel safe and secure.

There are few people that don’t feel somewhat anxious at this upheaval in their lives. We find ourselves with an increasing inability to understand and deal with the things happening around us. Unfortunately, our response to fear is not always our best selves. Too often a gut-level disconnect exists from the truths we hold in our head (“God is in control”) and the realities of how we live our lives.

Within the leadership world there is a concept described by an acronym called VUCA. VUCA describes when the external world is characterized as being essentially volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It originated in the US Army Military College in the 1990s. VUCA was first used to describe the changing nature of military intervention in modern warfare; the unpredictable way something can escalate every quickly; the uncertainty around every corner or person they meet, and the complex strategies and threats to safety that might be present in a field situation unfolding in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Few of us would deny that uncertainty, complexity, constant change, and ambiguity describes our days. We live in a VUCA world. It’s hard to keep up and it is hard to make sense of things. It’s our new normal.

We live in a VUCA world. It’s our new normal.

VUCA can also characterize our inner world. Times of the uncertainty and rapid change can breed fear, confusion, panic, disillusionment, and helplessness. These are issues of the heart. The heart cannot be simply met with toughness or bravado. Incorporating the external complexities of VUCA into the narrative our lives and forging the capacity to sit with such tensions requires a greater interiority; because peace, resilience, courage, faith, and the ability to abandon ourselves to the goodness of God, are also matters of the heart.

The thing is…our hearts run our lives.

Our hearts are the deep place within us where God, by his Spirit, dwells. This sacred place provides us refuge is inviolable that cannot be touched by the raging storms of life. It’s a place where we meet with God and becomes the place where we can pray. It is a place where we hear God’s voice, say, “It will be okay. Because you are going to be okay.” It is the place where we hang our hat of faith and hold on to hope.

It is a place where we hear God’s voice, say, “It will be okay. Because you are going to be okay.”

It is a place to respond with wisdom to the ebb and flow of living in this VUCA world and where we recognize God working below the surface of our lives. It is a place to be convinced there is more going on than what we can see; where we recognize small signs of God’s activity in our lives; and where an inner, imperceptible strength is forged that will carry us in time of need. 

And there is a peace that surpasses all understanding; it doesn’t make any sense at all in light of our circumstances. It is a peace that we cannot produce on our own but gets poured into our lives.

How does that happen? How do we cultivate these things of the heart that keep us sane? That is for tomorrow.

I love The Message rendering of Matthew 5:8, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world-your mind and heart- put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world.”

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