certainty is overrated. i’m certain of it.

One of the things that has left my personality and make-up over the past ten years is the language and emphasis of "certainty". You know what that is. It's when someone thinks or says, "oh, I'm sure it's going to be blah blah blah" – or, "well, everyone knows that Republicans blah blah blah" – and, "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that blah blah blah".

It's making a stand on opinion, on feeling, on happenstance. It's standing for something, knowing you'd rather not fall for anything. It's cultural, it's relational, it's groupthink. It's making something foundational that doesn't need that kind of pressure. It's black and white in a world full of shades of color.

For some, it's a feeling of safety that draws us towards certainty. There's a peace, a stability, in knowing the answer and staking a claim to it. For some, it's arrogance – that's not a bad thing necessarily, but it just feels good to "be right", to "be in the know", to "have all the facts". Sometimes, it is the need for acceptance, to fit into a certain group or classification. Or it's the need for assurance, to know that you think you've got the answers and having this group of folks coming to the same conclusions, then you can be right and verified in the crowd.

For me, I don't see it as a positive. I'm too quick to be arrogant, too quick to claim know-it-all status. So having a bit of uncertainty keeps me on my toes, so to speak. It keeps me honest, and I hope keeps me real. It opens doors to other viewpoints not as compromise, but as worthy avenues or pursuit to flesh out truth over and above just my perspective. It gives credance to your position, to your perspective. It gives voice to "the other side" by realizing there is more than one way to skin a cat (mmmm, skinned cats – sorry, I digress).

As a parent, this is a tough position to take, one where there's less certainty and more doubt. Or at least, that's the way it appears. Helping our kids make good choices, guiding them in taking chances, being responsible and creative, teaching them to be their own person and bringing their own oomph to the proceedings – that's a huge deal. I find that it's also rewarding when it works out, that it's meaningful when we hear them say something or watch them do something that's full of possibility and life.

Just some random I-need-a-nap-or-coffee thoughts on a Saturday afternoon.

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6 thoughts on “certainty is overrated. i’m certain of it.

  1. Chuck says:

    Is there a difference in “being certain” and “taking a stand?”

  2. Rick says:

    Not following – I think I put those phrases on the same side of the divide. They don’t need to be, but I would say we sometimes “take a stand” on the “certainty” of a thing instead of on real facts or thoughtout perspectives.
    How’s that for not answering the question? 🙂

  3. Chuck says:

    How can we be “certain” that facts are real? And, doesn’t perspective imply a certain “shading” of reality (e.g. my perspective could be different from yours?).
    From the post, I just had the thought that if we can not be certain of something, then how can we take a stand for anything?

  4. RIck says:

    For me, it means taking a step back, re-thinking the need to “take a stand” in the first place, and finding truth in another direction.
    Does that help? Feel like I’ve made something muddy here.

  5. Chuck says:

    Nah, there isn’t much mud here (and I agree to the original premise regarding certainty). Just exploring the question of “do we take a stand on things that we are certain of.”
    You know me. Post a message, and I take a left turn in the comments. 🙂

  6. Rick says:

    Well, let me drive it off the track then. My list of things I’m willing to “take a stand on” for the sake of certainty is dwindling. I’m finding that if I take a stand on something, I’m usually wrong, or at least not as right as I would have wanted to think. If it falls outside the Gospel, then maybe we’re overstepping our bounds. And if it’s squarely on the Gospel, I probably still need to learn a few things before staking a claim to it.
    Something like that.

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