So long, Certainty!

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

[Note: If you feel like you’ve been left hanging with the gospel question from Monday, don’t worry. We will return to it. I’d like to bring some additional bloggers, writers, and theologians into the conversation, so stay tuned.  It should get interesting!]


On the journey of faith, I used to have the most delightful traveling companion.


No matter where I travelled, Certainty stayed by my side like a faithful friend, constantly assuring me that I was on the right path, headed in the right direction, keeping just the right pace.  

When my eyes would wander to the roads less traveled, Certainty convinced me that the safest route was straight ahead, that hesitancy, curiosity, self-examination, and change were qualities of the weak in faith.  

To help keep me motivated, Certainty told wonderful stories about how the journey would end—with streets of gold and a crystal sea, with reunions, redemption, and reward, with the absolute and final knowledge that we’d been right all along.

I loved those stories, and I miss the way I believed them without question.

Certainty did not leave me in a single moment or dramatic goodbye.

Which is why I suppose it's been so hard to grieve its absence. 

Like a friend who slowly grows distant amidst changing circumstances or new company, Certainty and I just drifted apart. I wandered the roads less traveled. Certainty kept marching straight ahead.  I encountered new companions—Doubt, Humility, Faith. Certainty never looked back. I travelled through the darkest, lowest valleys and up to the highest, most breathtaking peaks. Certainty left even, perfectly-spaced footprints in the dust of a broad and flat path.

When I got lonely—when Doubt had frustrated me and Faith seeminly abandoned me— I called for Certainty to return. But all I heard was my own echo in response. 

Certainty, it seemed,  could not be called back…or willed back, or tempted back, or even prayed back. It was much too far ahead. (And from what I’d heard, Certainty did not play nice with Doubt, Humility, and Faith anyway.) 

So I settled into a new journey, filled with high peaks, low valleys, glorious days, lonely nights, moments of despair, moments of joy, new views, new companions, new ideas, new stories.  This new path was more challenging and more beautiful. It included streams to wade through, trees to climb, bridges to build, and mountains to hike.

So enthralled by the journey, I almost forgot to grieve for Certainty.

I almost forgot to say goodbye.

Only recently have I realized that as much as I’d like to say I do not miss Certainty, as much as I'd like to say I am content with Humility and Faith by my side, I feel the weight of Certainty's absence every single day.

I miss believing those stories. I miss knowing exactly how the journey will end.

So I guess it’s time to officially say, “So long, certainty! I’m sorry I wandered away. I miss you, but I just couldn't keep up with you. May we meet again some distant day.”


Have you parted ways with Certainty? Do you miss it sometimes? Have you taken the time to grieve its absence?

[Photo by James Jordan]

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