How do you teach how to become comfortable with uncertainty?

My 11 year old daughter is a ballerina. She lives to dance and has danced at the same school since she was 3 years old. Her dance school performs a nutcracker. It is a really big deal. It is magical. Every year we hope that casting will be done differently and every year we are disappointed. Her first year she was cast as a mouse and we knew in the early part of November. Since that year, we haven’t known if or what her role might be until way too late. The uncertainty causes my child to act in mysterious ways. While it is a honor to be able to participate, we are never quite sure how detrimental it is to audition endlessly and not know if you will get to perform or what your role might be. It is super hard to help your child grow and develop in a world where you have no bearings- I am not a dancer! However, being the life learner that I am, I have always tried to seek ways to teach my girls how to manage the ups, downs and twists with resilience and grace.

Recently, it was late one night, well after bedtime, and she was struggling with stress, uncertainty and worry. School was expecting a lot from her. Three days a week she leaves school early, goes straight to ballet, and when she gets home she barely has time to eat and take a bath. Those nights are hard for her 11 year old self. She has a strict bedtime no matter if all her school work is done. She had a lot of worries and couldn’t fall asleep. We talked through her feelings because naming them helps. I grabbed my phone and looked up an old hymn I thought of in the moment. Thankfully there was an updated version to It is well with my soul. This hymn was first published in 1876 and was written by a man named Horatio Spafford. The updated version I found was a little different lyrics but the same meaning.

“It Is Well With My Soul” – Matt Redman 

Our scars are a sign of grace in our lives,
And Father how you brought us through
When deep were the wounds and dark was the
Night the promise of Your love You proved.
Now every battle still to come let this be our song.

It is well, (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Weeping may come, remain for a night
but joy will paint the morning sky
You’re there in the fast, You’re there in the Feast
Your faithfulness will always shine
Now every blessing still to come let this be our song.

It is well, (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

I trust your ways (trust your ways)
I trust your name (trust your name)
It is well, it is well with my soul

You lead us through battles, (You lead us through battles)
You lead us to blessing, (You lead us to blessing)
And You make us fruitful, (And You make us fruitful)
In the land of our suffering God
And it is well, it is well
With my soul, with my soul

It is well, (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Listening to the song calmed her and she was able to sleep. In the morning she told her daddy all about the song. They listened to it again. We’ve listened to it over and over in the last weeks. It has become her touchstone. Last night we celebrated advent by attending my alma matter, Saint Olaf, for their Christmas Festival. It was my girls’ first time and it is a big deal. My daughter fell wrong at ballet and really hurt her foot. She did not want to drive an hour away and go to the show. Thankfully, I knew she needed to experience life outside of ballet. When we arrived, made it through the long bathroom line and found our seats, we looked through the program. One of the final songs was It is well with my soul and we smiled. Sometimes I feel like I am just making this parenting thing up as I go, but last night confirms that life lessons are bigger than me – this is one of the infinite possibilities that I never expected and it was well with my soul.