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Monday, August 19, 2019

Certain about Certainty...

I had a relatively certain life for the first decade of the 2000s.   I had my first house for most of the decade, I had steady employment for whole decade, all of my immediate family was still alive and I would regularly hang out with the same set of friends and my credit was good, and when I had my daughter in 2007, I saw her every day.

One by one, each of the dominoes fell, first my company announced they were closing down the local office, the my first marriage was disintegrating before my eyes, then my brother took his life,  my marriage for all intent and purposes ended shortly thereafter leading to the loss of seeing my daughter daily, the loss of my house, eventual bankruptcy and the passing of my father and mother as the 2010s got well under way.   Suffice to say, my sense of certainty had been shattered.   I've had other periods of uncertainty in my life which I can draw upon as well, but I digress...

I've heard from, observed and read about others about certainty and uncertainty in their lives and I've come to realize not everyone responds in the same way to certainty.  Likewise, not everyone responds the same way to uncertainty.
  • If your life has been riddled with uncertainty.
    • You may long for certainty and become comfortable with it and finally at ease when you feel it.  Some people just long for the 'day' in which they can feel stability.
    • You may be very uncomfortable with certainty and struggle with accepting or believing it is authentic.  In other words, adapting to it may prove difficult.  
      • The ironic thing is often the ones who longs for certainty may be the same people that don't believe or recognize it when they start to experience it. 
      • It is almost as if they've faced uncertainty for so long that they are just waiting for the other show to drop.
      • In some cases they can sabotage the positive certainty they have so that they are left with the the 'certainty of uncertain' or negative certainty that they are used to.
    • It may feel like the 'normal pace of life'.  We can be comfortable with what we know even if it is far from perfect--like a well worn shoe.   See the third point about sabotage.
    • It may feel like a positive driving force.  Uncertainty can be a motivator. 
  • If you have always had certainty
    • A lack of it at points may be scary or threatening.
    • It can lead to feelings of  monotony, boredom or purposelessness.  That is it may feel same ole, same ole and/or stale.  
    • It may feel like you've never really taken a chance or risk.
      • You might be too afraid of upsetting what you know to take a chance.   Another way of saying this is you might become too complacent.
      • You might feel the need to take a chance before the opportunity slips away.
    • Spontaneity or uncertainty may feel like an exciting change of pace.  
      • It may make you feel like you are truly alive as opposed to just living.
      • It may feel like 'stepping outside the lines' or moving the boundaries rather than just 'coloring within the lines'.
  • If you've had a life-changing events which shattered your certainty.
    • It could either push you harder to seek or keep certainty in other areas.
      • In my life, my daughter saw less of me due to a divorce.  When she was around me, she stayed close for a while rarely straying too far from me.  She had terrible separation anxiety when I dropped her off at child care.
    • Situations that previously would have appeared to have certainty, you would tend to question their certainty (or relative permanence).
      • You have a loved one unexpectedly die, the other things you took for granted as 'permanent' such as living somewhere, you may expect that will change as well.

Ultimately, I believe at some point we all realize life is full of uncertainty.  Even when we think we have it figured out, we eventually will get thrown a curveball which will give lie to the myth of certainty in our lives.  As a Christian, I believe we have hope for ultimate certainty if we accept God's will, way, and grace in our lives.  We may not have the certainty we wish for in this life, but I believe that in the next we can have that.  But, in the meantime, we have to learn to accept and perhaps live with the uncertainties in this life.   Of this, I am certain.

- Rich