Just Sayin’…On Uncertainty

The waters of the future are cloudy. Murky. Foreboding. If life were a 14th century map, the future would be the oceans labeled “Here be monsters.”

As a senior, my future is especially unclear. I’m currently applying for jobs. Wyoming, Missouri, Idaho. Alaska and Maine and everything in between (except for the District of Columbia, Florida and California). I’m just throwing myself at walls to see which one I stick to best. Meanwhile, I’m working on a novel on the side. I don’t know if it will amount to anything, if I will be successful enough to achieve my dream job of being a full-time children’s author.

Maybe I’ll be the next Stephen King or Suzanne Collins or Nicholas Sparks, or maybe I’ll be a reporter at a small newspaper in the Rockies, covering high school basketball and wrestling for the next 30 years, making $25,000 a year. Who knows? I might live in a cardboard box under a bridge in downtown Cincinnati, right next to an old homeless man named Rory who used to be a bagger at Kroger.

My point is, anything could happen. That’s the scary thing about life, but this uncertainty can also make life beautiful if you let it.

We’re inquisitive people. We want to know if aliens and the Loch Ness Monster exist. We want to know the true identity of Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer. We want to know how the Egyptians built the pyramids and know how our socks mysteriously disappear in the dryer. There’s nothing wrong with this.

God created us to wonder and discover things in the past and the present.

But when it comes to the future, we’re better off trusting in him than stressing out ourselves.

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes that we will one day know much more than we do now: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

So we can look forward to knowing, but until then, we’re stuck with uncertainty.

We don’t like not knowing. We want to know what’s going to happen when and where and why and how. Mystery, intrigue, it’s all frightening. Deep down, everyone fears the unknown. If we fear the dark, it’s because we can’t see five feet in front of ourselves. If we fear new or foreign places, it’s because we don’t know the language or where the closest coffee shop is or even if it serves good coffee. If we fear death, it’s because we don’t know what will happen in the afterlife or if there even is one.

The Bible is full of people who faced uncertainty. Joseph sitting in the pharaoh’s jail for something he didn’t do. Abraham wondering if God would deliver on the promise to make him into a great nation.

Think of the disciples after the crucifixion. They had to be filled with uncertainty. What did they have left to live for? They’d spent the last three years with a man who promised to change their lives, and then he died a humiliating death at the hands of the Roman Empire. When Jesus showed up, they were hiding and moping around in someone’s house because they didn’t know what to do.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a potential career path or a March Madness bracket, life is full of scenarios where you’ll have to make choices without knowing where they’re going to take you. This can be very stressful.

Just over two years ago, I was still searching for a major. I was deciding between journalism, technical and professional communication (now known as professional writing and information design) and English. Was I worried? A little bit. But during that time, a line from an August Burns Red song really spoke to me: “Silence is a frustrating answer when all you want is a sign.”

I wanted God to give me a sign right away. But I just sat in silence. It wasn’t until the second half of my sophomore year that I knew that I was supposed to major in journalism. God had a reason for making me wait. I don’t know what that reason is, but I’m sure I’ll discover it sooner or later.

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by the fear that you’ll make a wrong decision. You’re human – you will make a wrong decision somewhere down the road. If you don’t make a choice at all, you eliminate the possibility of making a bad decision, but you also erase any chance you have of making a good one. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

You’re not going to be perfect. In fact, you will fall time after time. But why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up. Once you learn this, failure will become much easier to swallow.

Imagine what life would be like if you knew everything that was going to happen. Personally, I’d find it extremely boring, walking down a set path without deviating from it. Uncertainty turns life into more of an adventure. In “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Dr. Seuss writes, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

He’s right, up to a point. In the end, we are the ones who make the decisions. But he’s wrong in that we are not on our own. We’ve got God. With him, we don’t have to run away from the mystery. We can dive into the depths of the unknown, knowing that God will bring us back up to the surface.

So with that in mind, embrace the uncertainty, accept the mystery and follow the advice that Kenneth Grahame gives in his book, “The Wind in the Willows:” “Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ’Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new.”

Jonathan Gallardo is a senior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. Unfortunately, he is in the middle of reading Twilight.

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