I hate suspense. And ambiguity is utterly annoying and uncomfortable. I am the person who needs to know the ending of a movie before I watch it. I will read the last page of any book first. In addition, it’s difficult to surprise me, not impossible but difficult. I find comfort in watching the same movie literally hundreds of times, sometimes even back to back. It never gets old to me. I’m the person who needs closure after every breakup, or I’d be obsessing over the details of the failed relationship. Suspense creates anxiety and tension within me. Unlike some people, I don’t find uncertainty entertaining.
As a single mother, often a struggling single mother I had become used to having the rug snatched from underneath me. Therefore, it seemed that from one moment to the next there always seemed to be some disappointment, some unfortunate mishap or surprise that always required my attention. There was always something requiring me to shift gears. Years of living from day to day not knowing what to expect created distress, depression and cognitive dissonance. Consequently, I have developed a low tolerance for ambiguity.
However, I’ve come to discover, possessing such a low tolerance for uncertainty has led to me having a rather impulsive, and reactionary life. A life riddled with anxiety, and as some of you may know, an anxious life is not the type of life we were created to live. We are not meant to live in a constant state of worry. Our biology can’t sustain such maladies. On the contrary, we were created to have an abundant life. A life full of joy, creativity and wonder. Anything less is of the evil one.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NIV
As a Christian, I know that a doubleminded person will receive nothing from the Lord, because they are unstable in everything they do. Furthermore, doublemindedness is a state of unbelief, and unbelief is a sin, thus a barrier between the believer and the Savior. Cognitively, I knew all of this. Practically, however I didn’t know how to break free from it.
Understanding the Psychology of Uncertainty
As humans we need closure. We need security and safety. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see below), a study of human behavioral motivations, if our most basic needs are not met, then it we will struggle in progression toward meeting our highest goal of Self-actualization. People want firm answers, and hard evidence. It’s me, I’m People.
In cultural psychology, Uncertainty avoidance deals with how well a nation or culture tolerates uncertainty. Technology developments, laws, and religion are all tools used by cultures and society to better cope with the unknown. The United States scores at 46 on the Uncertainty Avoidance Index, which is relatively low when compared to other countries. This is evidenced in America’s “do whatever you want, find your own way’’ type of cultural mentality. Countries with higher scores tend to have stricter beliefs and customs. For More information Read this (https://clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/uncertainty-avoidance-index/). The fundamental question is can we really be prepared for the future? Or, do we just let it happen, and hope for the best.
While, having too much uncertainty overwhelms an individual, having a tolerance for uncertainty is a valuable life skill worthy of pursuit and cultivation. According to Michel Dugas, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Quebec, “The goal is to experience a bit of uncertainty and tolerate it even though it is uncomfortable.”
According to a 2014 study, there are benefits to uncertainty. Expert and author, Jamie Holmes states, “uncertainty improves our decisions, promotes empathy and boosts creativity.” Uncertainty can cause us to prepare for the future. It makes us plan; it forces us to consider the possibilities. However, it was never meant to make us afraid to face tomorrow. We may not know the specific details of the future, and what it will bring but we can be sure that it will all work for our good in the end. The key to being able to deal with uncertainty is contentment. It’s being able to accept the reality of what is and being hopeful of what will be. Yet, uncertainty can become so uncomfortable that some people prefer to know the outcome even if it is painful, rather than not knowing at all.
One day after praying I opened my bible. It opened to Isaiah 43. At the top of the page, was a prayer I had scribbled in red ink which read, “Father open my eyes to see what you are doing in Jesus Name.” I knew the Holy Spirit was telling me that I had to change my perception, the way I viewed the unknown. My strong desire for predictability, was making it hard for me to just to sit back and Trust. I had to be involved in the process. I MUST see it to believe it, and that is Anti-Faith.
Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (See Hebrews 11). And, there I was not even realizing I was telling God he needed to “Show me” his plans. It wasn’t enough that “He knew” the plans he had for me. If I’m being honest, I believed he needed to take my advice sometimes. Surely, I have good insight on what will work best for me, right? WRONG!
God sees the Big Picture. He see’s it ALL. All includes EVERYTHING, the good the bad and everything in between. He alone declares the end from the beginning and has said that his plans will be accomplished (See Isaiah 44). His plans for us are good! He wants to prosper us more than we really know (See Jeremiah 29).
Sometimes we won’t be able to see all the specifics, but we can Rest in knowing God’s good plan for our lives has already been accomplished. God has already worked everything out long before the problem or solution comes into fruition. God completed everything he needed to accomplish in our lives, but it’s up to you and me to keep walking towards the promised land. It’s up to us to determine if we will trust him enough to enter his REST. He promised us he would make streams in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. He promised us, he would be with us, and nothing would overtake us. His Promises are a Sure thing! I am CERTAIN of it.