You know that panic feeling you get sometimes when you feel out of control. You know, it comes in the middle of the night and you wake abruptly, believing that a giant spider is lowering itself down on your head! Yeah, me too.
I studied communications at UW Milwaukee back in the 90’s and one of the theories we studied was the Uncertainty Reduction Theory. It was developed in 1975 by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese, is a communication theory from the post-positivist tradition. The basic gist is that people have a need to reduce uncertainty about others by gaining information about them. Using verbal communication, nonverbal expressiveness, information-seeking behavior, intimacy, reciprocity, similarity, and “liking” we gain information about another person or a society. What is learned allows for one to feel a sense of control, which may lead to feeling connected.
We all do it. Uncertainty is unpleasant and therefore motivational; people communicate to reduce it. We are comfortable in relationship or society when we can predict or explain it. The idea of entering the mystery of the unknown is just not our natural disposition.
As we get closer to ditching the bus, We have been weeding through irrational fears. Personally, I’m consumed with gathering information about some of the places we are going to, so as to feel more secure, safe and comfortable when we get there. The fact is however, that I might find a sense of security by researching and I might have a great track record assimilating into new experiences. I might have good intuition and be able to read situations but ultimately I have no control. And as soon as, I admit that fact, the fear I’m struggling with looses power and I find a peace that goes before me.
People ask, are you scared of running into unrest in some of the countries you’re going to? They ask, are you scared of being a target or someone trying to kidnap your children? Are you nervous about not being able to speak the languages and getting ripped off? Are you worried about not having modern amenities or getting sick? Then, they usually follow-up the question with a story they have heard about someone who had some traumatic experience over seas and what to look out for in those places.
All of those questions are fear based and I’ll admit we’ve asked them too. We live in a culture that is driven by comfort and security. Yes, we want to be comfortable and secure but we have found that as we question our cultural construct and push past our natural instincts, that we are able to see something more to this life. No longer do comfort and security sit in the forefront of our existence but rather faith and adventure have risen to the top. Faith that God goes before us, weaving us together with humanity for the purpose of exchanging gifts and talents, so that those we meet along the way would see that reconciliation and restoration to both God and others, including their enemy is actually possible. And, adventure has allowed us to see the Glory of God in all it’s splendor, from the beauty of creation and the diversity of nature, to meeting people from all walks of life, learning and gleaning wisdom from them about God’s faithfulness in their culture and traditions.
We are willing to give up much of our comforts and security because we trust we are right where we are supposed to be, breathing in every moment. And, if for some unseen reason, tragedy were to come our way, our hope would be in the one who has brought us on this grand adventure of life. Of course, we will continue to work out this sense of uncertainty, as its human nature. However, we hold tightly to our unbreakable spiritual lifeline. We know that grounding is the only thing that will make any sense in times of trouble.
What’s that old hymn, My hope is built on nothing less…
I’m sure that will be ringing in our ears as we continue forward.
~We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.~ Hebrews Author Unknown, but probably is Priscilla. 🙂