Maybe it’s because I’m dramatically emotional, maybe it’s because I’m slightly OCD or maybe it’s because I’m a (perfectly) recovering perfectionist. My personality desires decisions and situations to be black and white. Trouble is, we live in a shades of gray world.
I love or I hate. I’m all in or I’m totally out. I do it well or I don’t do it (Although I’m willing to die trying to change this.) I’m completely against something until I am it’s biggest and loudest advocate. I eat junk until I eat no sugar. I don’t exercise until I train for a marathon. I don’t clean house until I clean every room, closet and shelf. I’m all or nothing. Needless to say, when I seek God, I want answers.
I want the Bible to be like a Magic Eight Ball as I ask God a question and open His Word to my answer. In my mind, God’s voice thunders from heaven telling me exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it as I seek His will in my life decisions.
I can live this way too—actually believing it is possible to seek God hard enough, read the Bible enough, listen to wise people enough to do it all perfectly. I want to believe it’s possible to live without messing up; because then the fallout won’t be on me. Mistakes won’t be my fault. Consequences won’t haunt me and I won’t have a messy, disappointing life. I can trick myself into believing this is how God relates to those He loves and it causes me to wonder.
If He loves me.
I tend to think if God loves me, He will teach me to make perfect decisions about what to major in; who to marry; how to choose homeschool, public or private; to be a stay at home mom, work from home mom or work outside the home mom; to let my kids do sports, music and drama or just one; to let them go to the party or make them stay home.
You get the idea.
Reasoning with black and white, right and wrong decisiveness in life’s gray areas literally makes me crazy and my mind chaotic causing me to waste away with worry over things I should have done better and ways I missed God. Paralyzing fear causes me to avoid missing the perfect decision all together. So I miss the chance to make the best decision by making the worst one—doing nothing.
Then I had a friend who had a baby girl. She named her Grayce. When I read the birth announcement, I asked myself, “Why would anyone add a ‘y’ to grace?”
Then I heard His voice thundering from heaven as He whispered to my heart, “There is always grace to surround the gray.”
And this Gray(ce) freed me.
Because He loves me.
Suddenly it didn’t matter where my kids went to school, if my marriage was a work in progress, what house we bought or where I worked because God is more concerned with who I am than what I do. “People look at the outside of a person. But the Lord looks at what is in the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIRV)
God is more concerned with my outside than He is with my inside. He is more concerned with my motives than He is with my choices. He doesn’t scrutinize decisions looking for ways to punish. He looks at our hearts and offers love to cover our shortcomings and grace to make us better.
And He loves us.
He loves us in this gray world. This life is filled with gray areas and unclear decisions and He made it that way. He made faulty people to rely on direction from a Holy God. And just as I allow my children to make decisions on their own, He lets His. And just as I put my foot down on occasion, He does too.
And although, even my best parenting isn’t perfect. His is. And so I move forward. Navigating the gray parts of life becomes easier when I head toward grace.
Because there’s always gray to surround the gray areas in life.
Maybe God gave life gray areas as a reminder. If it weren’t for life’s shades of gray, grace wouldn’t be needed at all. With no place to exercise faith and apply the Bible’s lessons, grace would be unnecessary. We would all be able to make perfect choices and live perfect lives.
It’s funny. The grace-beacon of light in all life’s gray is not a gray area at all. Grace is a black and white issue. We all need it. God gives it without discrimination. His grace is vast enough to swallow every sin and big enough to cover every mistake.
Because He loves us.
“Love erases many sins by forgiving them.” (1 Peter 4:8b, NIRV)
His grace is love’s free gift. And there are no shades of gray in His love. There is no gray in love at all. True love is the perfect shade of grace.
He loves you.
It doesn’t matter if you love Him. It doesn’t matter if you seek Him. It doesn’t matter if you even believe He exists. It doesn’t matter if you love Him or His very presence angers you. It doesn’t matter if you refuse His love or grow in it. It doesn’t matter if you consider Him in life’s choices or pompously strike out on your own.
He loves you.
His love for you is one decision that has been clearly made. It’s written in black and white. And stained in red. There’s no grace in true love. It is the shade of perfect grace.
“No one has greater love than the one who gives their life for their friends. You are my friends…” -Jesus (John 15:13-14a, NIRV)