This Is Your Brain On Uncertainty


Remember back in January when I resolved 2012 would be my year for great risk?

I could feel it in my bones even back then (although I was most likely confusing cold for prophecy).

Risk and commitment.

Well, I’m courting both now. With one phone call yesterday, I accepted a new job.

A non-profit position in Nashville, Tennessee.

My boldness evaporated bit by bit as my mind filtered in the practical: moving trucks, apartment searching, potential roommates, churches, volunteering, new faces.

How will I find an apartment in neighborhoods I know nothing about?

What if my roommates end up resenting my messy nature?

What if I can’t find a community to fit into?

It all came down to this: What if I end up alone?


If you didn’t know, I’m a Maryland girl. I grew up not far from the beach, on a sun-glazed farm thirteen hours from Nashville.

[Who knew Nashville fell so far West?]

No, I’m not moving to a third-world country or writing a memoir about my family or signing a five-year contract with MI-6.

I’m leaving a family who gives bear hugs and says “I love you” at the end of every phone call.

I’m leaving a baby sister who talks fairies and flowers.

I’m leaving best friends scattered in cities across the Northeast.

And I’m leaving certain certainty.


To me, certainty is synonymous with boredom, stagnancy, and routine.

And yet, I can’t seem to get enough of it.

Jeff Hawkins, founder of the Redwood Neuroscience Institute and inventor of the Palm Pilot, spells out this addiction to the known:

Your brain receives patterns from the outside world, stores them as memories, and makes predictions by combining what it has seen before and what is happening now…Prediction is not just one of those things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neo-cortex, and the foundation of intelligence.

It makes sense. We’re hard-wired for it. We can’t help it.

But that’s hardly an excuse.

Because when you add God into the equation, playing it safe starts to look less like survival and more like cowardice.

Risk means growth and challenge. But it all comes at a price.

Are we willing to endure the physical, emotional, social pain it takes to get there?

God never promised us comfort or stability or wealth.

He promised us a story.

A story filled with romance and comedy, villains and dragons, battles and scars.

I used to think these stories played out only on thin pages and moving reels, but as it turns out, I was wrong.


My next scene is Nashville, Tennessee.


Where are you in your story?