Graying as I Age

3:54 PMHeather

I make no secret of the fact that a few years ago, Clairol Nice 'N Easy #117 became my best friend.  We meet up about every four weeks, and while my wonderful hair stylist could make my hair look way better, my at-home-color fits my budget.  Yes indeed, I am graying as I age.  But, I am also graying in other ways.

You see, I tend to see things in black and white.  Or, at least that has always been my leaning.  Don't misunderstand me--I believe in absolute truth more than ever, firmly rooted in God's Word and His best plans for our lives.  But, the older I get, the more I realize that sometimes life is just not so easily defined because many shades of gray exist.  

For instance, I used to see life as a Christian as this nifty "before" and "after" picture.  As a perfectionist, this was a rather self-defeating perspective.  Because it's not that simple.  You don't in one singular moment reach a point of never struggling with your flesh.  You may not have some amazing moment where the strongholds and bondage disappear and never reappear again.  That may be a "duh" thing to you.  But for me, it's a continual unraveling of my preconceived notions.  I am coming to see that wrestling with my sin nature is not defeat--but giving into it is.  And, just like Abraham--who may I remind you took matters in his own hands with that maidservant thing--moving ever toward God is counted as faithfulness.  Moments of failing are not forever marked on some heavenly scoreboard.  I am not expected to be "right" or else I am wrong.  But, I am asked to continually strive forward, surrendering moment by moment.

I remember a conversation with my cousin Megan about a friend who was seeking God, and on their "journey."  I loved how Megan expressed this idea.  Our life on earth is a journey, and we should be ever seeking to walk closer to Him--to love Him and know Him each day should be my constant goal.  Her friend was continually embracing the idea of following Christ, and the moment of complete surrender to Him as Lord may not have been at one exact moment, but rather defined by a process.  We use these terms such as "point of salvation."  But, some people work out their faith in a more fluid motion rather than a dot on a line.  I think this is particularly true for those who make a decision to follow Christ as a child.  Their faith walk may include a very distinct moment of surrender, but they are continually working out that faith as they develop and mature.  Then again, really--aren't we all?  Sanctification is indeed a PROCESS including a lot of gray rather than a before and after.  There is freedom in living with the truth that my complete "after" comes only in heaven.  That's not an excuse to sin, but rather the freedom of grace.

And, one other major area of gray that is completely hitting me over the head lately is that people are way too complex to be pigeon holed with labels.  I know, I know--maybe that is "duh" to you.  Call me slow.  But, I feel that a lasting effect of the Christian bubble I grew up in was to see things in an "us" and "them" mentality.  It's not easy to admit, but I would venture to guess that many believers struggle with a mental hierachy of "sin."  I believe that the church today is still wrestling with the idea of "respectable" or "acceptable" sin--and those who fall outside those pretty little packages.  But, the truth of it is that things are rarely that simple.  And, we ALL fall short of the glory of God.  We ALL needed a Savior.  So, I think we need to get off our high horse and stop and realize a few things. 

There are no "untouchables" in God's economy.  Christ's ministry was an extension of His love.  We are drawn to repentence by His lovingkindness.  But, yet, we are, as a whole, are all too often stuck in our little white washed tombs and thus unwilling to get our hands dirty with the "least of these."  If you read Same Kind of Different As Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall, then you may have caught a glimpse of this.  Denver--a homeless ex-con--was in many ways more honest in his journey toward Christ than Ron, the proper church goer.  

Due to some recent relationships, I am struck with this reality.  Those with labels--even rap sheets--that I may be prone to look down upon are someone's daughter, son, mother, father, brother.  They had dreams and they have feelings--just like me.  And, they want many of the same things that I want.  I gotta look past the cover to REALLY see the book.  The truth is that we have more in common in this human experience than I am sometimes willing to admit.  The truth is that there, but for the grace of God, go I.  The truth is that many people start down a slippery slope, first wrestling with "respectable sins."  And, then they slip into a downward spiral to that place that many see as too far gone.  Except there is no such thing.  And, if I am going to be the hands and feet of Christ, I must be willing to go there--wherever there might lead me.

INTENTIONAL challenge:  While I don't particularly love my gray hairs, I have to admit that graying in other areas is a good thing.  I believe that God's Word is absolute truth written in black and white.  And, I am coming to understand that embracing the shades of gray is an exercise in both accepting grace and extending it.  Allowing the Lord to open your eyes to the depth of his love and mercy means opening your eyes to gray also.  Will you gray with me?    

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