I like clean-cut things.
I like a straight answer and I like a firm answer. I like it when I ask a question and someone has an immediate answer that they are 100% confident about. I love it black and white.
I don’t like wishy-washy. I don’t like second guesses. I don’t like uncertainty. I hate grey areas.
I think a lot of us do.
The grey areas of life are the hard parts. They’re the speed bumps, the plot twists, the complex issues. They’re the emotional times when we pace back in forth in our kitchens late at night because we just don’t know what to do. They’re the issues we Google, knowing perfectly well that there is no correct answer that will pop up. The grey areas can cause strife in a community. They can cause division in a family. They’re just plain difficult.
And they’re difficult because each one of us perceives these situations, these periods, these issues as black or white. But in reality, they’re grey.
Life is full of grey areas that we try to manipulate and configure so that we can make them seem black or white. Black and white is easy for us to deal with. One is right and one is wrong. If we can identify what is clearly and completely right from what is clearly and completely wrong, we can handle the situation accordingly. It’s like following cute, simple little instructions. “Do this because its right.”
But when there is a grey area we can’t identify what is disctinctly right and what is disctinctly wrong. There isn’t a set of instructions that you can follow to handle this situation or face that issue. It’s not black. But it’s not white.
Where do you get step by step instructions for every situation in raising a child? Where’s the detailed plan for getting through a divorce? The death of a loved one? Is it right or wrong to steal? What if I’m starving? What if a child is starving? Is it ok to kill this person in order to save this one? Is this black or white?
Each person seems to have an opinion. “Well to raise a child you must to this.” “While going through a divorce, you handle it like this.” “In the event of a death, this is how you deal with it.”
Think about it, how many books have you seen in the self-help section of Barnes & Noble that relate the account of one person’s experience and they’re opinion on parenting, divorce, death, and so on. (Note, I have nothing against any of these types of books, they can be really helpful for some people.)
Everyone has an opinion. To one person stealing is always wrong. To another, stealing is a means to live. To one, murder is murder. To another, letting the spouse die saves their child. To one it’s black, to the other it’s white.
To me it’s grey.
I was participating in a conversation with an amazing group of people and we were talking about this exactly. I made the comment that things aren’t always clean-cut, and someone else said “there’s always an exception; an extenuating circumstance.”
And that’s the truth.
It’s all black until this happens. It’s all white until you see that happen.
There are some things in life that are doomed to be grey. And when you box things up and label them “black” or “white,” “right” or “wrong,” you box out a world of different cultures, backgrounds, environments, circumstances, and perspectives.
So I encourage you live in the grey. Thrive in the grey. Take these situations that are complex and pray. Paul says in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Through prayer and seeking our Lord, figure out what is right for you. Figure out what you must do to be reconciled with Jesus and do it. I encourage you to always do what you feel is right and good in the eyes of our God.
But then realize that what is right for you, may not be right for everyone else. Remember that you’re in the grey area and to you, this grey may seem really black, but to them, it may seem really white. We don’t all have the same greyscale. So be kind and respectful and be open.
In the future I hope you embrace the grey. It’s okay to live in the grey.