How to be Certain

“Are you sure?”

That is the line friends usually hit you with before you make a big decision. I don’t know about you, but that line is pretty effective in testing my certainty.

Sometimes, it will not even phase me and that is how I will know the strength of the conviction behind my decision. At other times I will pause to think, and be reminded to slow down a little, because I might not be ready to make a decision yet.

Certainty can be a tricky thing. So how can we know that we are certain about something, especially when it comes to the big decisions that may define the better part of our lives?

Let us start with what being “certain” might even mean.

The consensus amongst those I have spoken to about certainty throughout the years is that they feel certain about a decision when they feel assured that they will get their desired outcome. In other words, feeling certain is based on the outcome of the decision — it is results based.

I went most of my life feeling the same way. After all, that is what we are taught to do in school and at work. In general, we tend to be taught that our decision should be based on whether we are right or wrong. The right option is the right decision, and the right option ends up being equated to an accurate projection of the outcome.

If a friend asked me whether I was sure about getting a tattoo, my thought process would have been to try and predict whether or not I would still want it as I got older. 100% of the time I was unsure about this, and that is why I did not get tattoos until later in my life.

This approach to certainty often left me stressed out and feeling like I was rolling in mud rather than rolling into greener pastures. Decision making was unpleasant. I found myself increasingly confounded by the lack of control I had in life. I knew nothing and I could not truly determine anything.

True, I could choose how I would react to things, but what I mean to describe is that there is an undeniably mysterious and expansive core to life that will never be tamed. The bit of life that makes it unpredictable, mysterious, and beautiful. Only God truly knows all, and He humbled me.

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God has a way of revealing things when it is time. Knowing this can make decision making wonderful and thrilling, while also potentially making it agonizing and frustrating.

At some point I began to slowly come to the realization that what I thought was my search for certainty, was in actuality, my search for security.

I wanted to find security for my decisions, whether small or large. I wanted to know that everything would be okay, and that things would go the way I had planned: security meant certainty. But things changed.

There is this beautiful thing called the vocation of religious life. I am a Roman Catholic and this is one of three main vocations we typically think of when talking about the course of one’s life. Religious life for a woman basically means becoming a sister or nun.

I felt a calling to explore whether or not I was meant to become a sister at various times throughout my life, but I became particularly proactive about it when I was 21-years-old. This part of my life journey brought me to a new understanding of certainty.

At first, discerning whether this road was the one I should take was altogether scary and stressful. I could not get a grasp of what my future would look like.

It was as if I was trying to take a snapshot of my future, and though the subject was in frame, I could not bring it into focus. The noisy and fuzzy image that appeared left me unsatisfied and insecure.

I needed to see the crisp lines and details of my future. I needed the security that I so firmly believed was certainty, but it never happened. At least not in the way I thought it would. At some point I realized that certainty came from commitment, and not from security.running.jpg

Certainty was a treasure to be had for those who would commit to fostering it. In other words, I realized that for me, certainty was found in how sure I was in my commitment to a decision. Certainty was no longer based on the results of my decisions, but on my commitment to the decision itself.

After this realization, decisions in my life became a source of enjoyment rather than dread. I enjoyed making decisions in my life and found a great deal of peace in not only my decisions, but in the process of committing to those decisions.

Discerning my vocation became a peaceful journey. This is not to say that it was easy, but it was definitely a source of grounding and centering.

Through this shift in my understanding, I was able to approach one of the biggest decisions of my life journey with an open heart and mind. I was no longer spending my life running away from things, and instead, I began running towards things.

Ultimately, I got married. It was not to run away from a vocation or future I felt was daunting, or a decision made in spite of another. In fact, it was a commitment made running towards the best “thing” there ever was and will be – God.

So how does one become certain about anything? For me, the way to be certain about anything is to make a commitment to the path you have chosen. To go all in.

Still, you might be wondering how your heart might feel once you are certain. One of my readers put it best:

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A big shout out to the readers who responded to my DM! I am so grateful for all of your responses, and your sharing’s made this week’s blog all the more enjoyable to write. Make sure to check my IG stories for your next chance at a spot in one of my future posts!

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