One of the most difficult things I have faced in recent years is coming to realize that much that I thought or hoped was clearly a black or white; either/or issue was more realistically like a friend once described as “a wide grey line with fuzzy edges.” Politics, religion, and every other topic we can get passionate about are complicated, multi-layered, complex and anything but simply a this or that view.
I say it was difficult to come to this realization because it was difficult to face my own biases and my many narrow categorical ways of seeing things. Admitting, at least to yourself, that you may not see things as clearly as you think, especially when you think you think carefully about most things you think about, is often quite emotionally painful.
For me, it was painful. It’s still painful. But I am beginning to rest in life’s ambiguities. I have my convictions but they are held with a looser grip than before. Most of life’s most perplexing questions remain perplexing ultimately. For me, the question of the ultimate meaning of life was revealed more than discovered. That ever-present but elusive question remains partly shrouded in mystery. “…I see through a glass darkly…”. My intellect bumps up against an opaque world, a world that I can see movement and frenzied activity in but only outlines without full definition. My mind fills in the blank spaces with a limited imagination.
If you desire a clearly black and white dichotomous world, then you will face wave upon wave of disappointment. But if you can rest in the space in between certainty, then you have discovered faith. Or maybe more accurately, Faith has discovered you.
What gives me ultimate comfort is the object of my faith. I don’t have any confidence in my faith, only what my faith is based upon. It’s one of those perplexing realities I have lived within for forty years. I rest in what I believe is a mystery revealed (that God became human to give some definition in a world of obscurities of what the Creator of this vast universe is like and what he desires), and that revelation has given me a certain sense of sureness even though it is still shrouded in mystery.
Life is one wide grey line with fuzzy edges. But as a backdrop to all we do, the occasional color that brightens our world, contrasts beautifully in all its artistic ambiguity.