A Craving for Certainty

Friday, 23 July 2021

Any woman who has experienced pregnancy will be able to detail for you the strange and wonderous power of cravings. My cravings were, I think, quite normal; salt and vinegar chips, chocolate paddle pops and 100's and 1000's biscuits. My sisters craving, however, was very bizarre. For one of her pregnancies she carried a small lump of concrete in her pocket so that she could smell it at any time. Cravings have a mysterious power over us that makes us do strange things.

Did you know that your brain craves certainty? In fact, our brains are hardwired for certainty. When we encounter a familiar situation our brain is wired to conserve energy by shifting into automatic pilot and utilising previously established neural pathways to enact a response. However, when we encounter an unfamiliar situation our brains shift into overdrive which requires extra energy to carve a new neural pathway to enact a response.

So, if you're feeling a little tired, overwhelmed or exhausted right now, its no wonder. In our current context where we are receiving daily doses of uncertainty as we navigate lockdown, working from home and online learning, your brain is in overdrive trying to work through a whole range of unfamiliar situations. What you and your child's brains are craving right now is some certainty and it's really important for an overall sense of wellbeing that you feed that craving.

One really simple way to feed the certainty craving is to spend time focusing on the things that won't change. In the Bible, Matthew the apostle wrote, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). This statement is easy to read but so much harder to do unless we have the same perspective Matthew had. When Matthew wrote this statement, he was reflecting on all that God does every day to care for the birds, the grass and creation in general. And he concluded, that if God would provide every day for the birds of the air and take time to ensure the grass of the field was nourished then how much more would He be inclined to take care of mankind, who are the pinnacle of His creation.

You see God's love, God's care, God's provision for our needs, these are the things that won't change. His orientation towards us is fixed and if we want to satisfy the certainty craving then fixing our gaze on Him is the best way to start.

Felicity Marlow