Have you ever tried to approach life through black and white lenses? Most of us have, at least on one occasion.
Approaching life through black and white lenses is a natural inclination, but it usually results in imbalances. If our past experiences have been overly contradictory or chaotic, we can inadvertently use this approach to find a more predictable life. We might try to remedy our struggle by categorizing everything into two extremes. Yet, as we experience personal and spiritual growth, we may soon discover that life isn’t a black and white process. It isn’t always neat and tidy.
When we try to live our lives through either/or, all-or-nothing, and black and white; we oversimplify God, His Scriptures, our circumstances, people, ourselves, and our close relationships. We might put all of it into little boxes, which have no room for other views.
Black and white thinking distorts real-life complexities. This way of thinking can foster self-defeating thought processes that we’ll never be good enough, loved enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or wise enough. As it seeps into our relationships, we may find our rigidity pushes people away and shuts down our heart.
All-or-nothing thinking is one way we try to control our own lives and others. It’s a way to cope with past unresolved hurts within our heart. At first, perfectionistic methods may seem to give us a sense of predictability over life’s uncertainties. It might even calm our hidden fears and anxieties for a season. In reality, though, when it comes to inner peace, living through these types of lenses doesn’t work in the long run. If we live this way, it ends up stunting our emotional and spiritual growth.
It’s comforting to know that God understands our weaknesses and will help us overcome. His hand of grace is always extended to us as we seek Him.
The Lord has a way of using questions to help us sort things out with Him. Questions often foster a fresh journey with Him, and the Holy Spirit shows us new insights.
Here are a couple of questions that I have found helpful:
1) Can I feel a variety of conflicting feelings about someone or something at the same time?
2) Can parts of my past experience be hurtful as well as blessed?
3) Can I love my job, but disagree with the way things are managed?
4) In my relationship with God, could His ways be more nuanced than what I expect?
5) If I make a decision and my circumstances change, can I change my mind?
6) Are people always this or never that?
As we pursue our own personal and spiritual growth, we can ask the Lord to help us expand our views for more of Him and His ways. We can learn to rest in the uncertainties of life. It’s okay if we don’t always have everything all together, and we don’t have to have all the answers to feel safe. Additionally, our ducks don’t have to be in row in order to try something new. This brings a deeper inner rest as God’s much-loved child, and a much more colorful life as we walk with our Savior.