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The gift of “positive uncertainty”


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Mar Dorrio - published on 09/28/21

It's time to embrace the happiness that arises when we accept the lack of control we have over our lives.

A week ago, I got a call from a lovely young woman from the production team of one of the most successful morning shows on the Spanish national scene. They wanted me to talk about my fears regarding the new school year and the pandemic. I kept quiet for a few seconds, thinking about how to tell her that I’m not worried at all.

Last year, at this same time, I was very worried, with remote classes becoming the norm and no end in sight. But it was the best school year since I became a mother.

My kids didn’t miss a single day of school, they didn’t get tonsillitis, they didn’t get a tummy bug, and … they didn’t even get lice. What we did lose was that naive and false certainty that we control all the factors in our lives.

So how could I tell the program’s production team that I don’t want to, nor should I, nor can I, talk about fears? That we have to infuse our society with positive uncertainty?

This term (which should become more familiar as this situation continues and we learn from it) is described in a book which reflects on the happiness that arises in us when we manage to accept the lack of control we have over our lives. What is positive uncertainty?

  • It’s the happiness and the peace of mind of not having to be making calculations every night, assessing the pros and cons, and the “what ifs,” of the next 50 years.
  • It’s the happiness of being aware of the here and now. If we’re fine now, everything is fine. It’s learning to enjoy the journey.
  • It’s the happiness of not suffering due to what has not yet happened. We’ll cross that bridge when we find it. It’s recognizing that perhaps, as happens with almost all our worst fears (like my fears last year about my children’s schooling), they will never materialize.
  • It’s the happiness of accepting, without feeling helpless, that there are things, facts, people, circumstances, etc., that we cannot change or control.
  • It’s the happiness that invades us when we take advantage of and value human contact, giving it priority in our lives—lives with an uncertain duration, as this pandemic has taught us.

Positive uncertainty is a term that explains simply, in the language of today, what God has been telling us since the beginning of time. Thus, we could translate positive uncertainty as “trusting in Providence” or as “trusting in God.” How they will smile in Heaven seeing us arrive, after so many years of trial and error, at what they had already left us in writing a couple of millennia ago!

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34).

“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matthew 6:27).

These quotes all say that what is coming is good. I believe that this pandemic has brought us this new concept of positive uncertainty so that many of us will once again find rest in the hands of Providence.

We need to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the person who has words that seem directed to each and every one of us at some point in our lives. We need to trust Him, knowing that He has the last card in this card game.

But how could I explain all this to the media? Well, I couldn’t share this reflection on the program, since they politely declined my participation, as I didn’t show concern. But here, through Aleteia, on my social networks, and with my life, I want to be a proponent of positive uncertainty. I want to be an evangelist of the One who always offers us hope. How about you?

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