One of the things that I am learning as I grow is the fact that life is not as black and white as I had expected. The “either/or” mentality is one of the most classic defining features of young people. We always thing that things are always one way or another. In reality however, I am finding that life so full of much more grey than I had expected.
To many people this is an excuse to live however they want. They think that, because the answers of life are not always so clear cut, there must BE no answer. Just because all the different arguments and perspectives seem to make sense, then they all must be equally valid from their own unique angles. To these people, the grey areas of life are an excuse to put their desires and opinions forward.
Some people jump on the extreme of embracing the grey areas and enjoying the freedom that seems to come with them, while others resort to sticking to their opinions as black and white, clear-cut answers that can never be challenged. Part of growing up is bouncing back and forth between those areas.
It has been encouraging and exciting for me to start learn a sense of balance between the extremes. Learning to hold my tongue and to think for a little longer. Learning to speak what I think and not let others opinions crush and liquify my own convictions. Its so challenging, yet so rewarding, to start to grow in a mindset that is humble, convinced, open-minded, excited by new thoughts and conversations, yet willing to gently challenge them and eagerly think them through.
By nature I am one who tends to just speak out my thoughts as if they were the last and most conclusive perspective on anything. What this means for me is learning to understand the fact that the world will not come crashing down if I keep my thoughts to myself for a little longer. This is why I have noticed that balance is largely an issue of humility. It is the kind of humility that is driven by the conviction that I need instruction, the conviction that I will make a mess of things if I am left to marinate in my opinions.
The timeless observations of the book of Proverbs rings truer than ever when thinking about this –
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.” (18:2)
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (29:11)
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” (9:9)
On the flip side, humility won’t let us get to pessimistic and stop responding to everything around us. It won’t let us embrace the grey areas and excuse our lack of integrity and discernment. Humility reminds one that he needs instruction, that he needs guidance and direction. Humility causes us to see the sacred nature of life and of our accountability to the One who is the giver of that life. This is precisely what drives the wise person of Proverbs. And although he does not know everything, he is “bold as a lion” (28:1) about the things he does know.
Humble balance is rooted in a pressing awareness of the littleness of humankind and the greatness of God, which prevents us from being overly confident, while constantly keeping us seeking and answering rather than becoming passive and apathetic.