/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » all or nothing?

I had a conversation last night that left me with a lot to think about.  It was a discussion with a black & white thinker – someone who sees the equation as “you do it ALL, or it’s WRONG.”  I’m generally pretty irritated with that kind of thinking, mostly because I used to do it.  It’s the type of thinking that kept me in a place of unhealth, but also does very few people any good whatsoever.

And so I ponder here and ask you what you think:  are your challenges in life served well by a black & white thought process?  They aren’t for me.

For example:  let’s pretend that we know Josef.  Josef wants to get out of debt, but is taking baby steps and inching his way towards being debt-free.  Most of us would applaud this and encourage him in his steps.  A black & white thinker would reject the baby steps and say, “Nope.  If you’re not throwing yourself headlong in to this and doing it THIS WAY, it doesn’t count.”  And yet, Josef is working his way out of debt.  Huh.

Another example:  Marge wants to start saving money by using coupons.  She is overwhelmed by all of the coupon sites on the web, printable coupons, CVS coupons, Walgreen’s coupons, manufacturer and store coupons, ad infinitum.  So she starts small and buys things that she needs, saving $10 per week (which is more than she was saving before using coupons).  I think that’s a great start and will encourage her to do more, as she’s ready and able to tackle it.  A black & white thinker says, similar to Josef’s example, “If you’re not using CouponMom’s site, accessing all of the CVS ECBs available, and using every printable coupon out there, you’re not REALLY using coupons.”  Drat.  Just when Marge was feeling good about getting her feet wet with couponing, now she’s not.

My point is this:  life is a journey and we’re all on a path.  Some of us are farther along than others and those who are further ahead have the opportunity to encourage those who are taking baby steps – or to squash them and limit future steps.  The choice is ours.  We can choose to encourage people to take Next Steps, or we can squelch their desire to do so.  Black & white thinking does the latter and for the sake of my health and the encouragement of those around me, I refuse to partake in that anymore.

I didn’t have the opportunity last night to say these things in the course of the conversation.  To be honest, I was a bit shocked that the conversation turned this way at all.  But whatever – I’m moving on.  I don’t condemn the thinker, just the thought pattern.  I hope someday, grace peppers all who engage in black & white thinking and they are able to find God in the shades of gray..

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  • Carrie

    My point is this: life is a journey and we’re all on a path. Some of us are farther along than others and those who are further ahead have the opportunity to encourage those who are taking baby steps – or to squash them and limit future steps.

    I would add this: Some of us are farther along in some areas, but we all have areas in which we’re beginners. Some people are great at couponing, but new at marriage, or new at parenting teenagers. Some are way into gardening and canning, but don’t know how to budget. And some are totally into volunteering, or ministry, or their professional development, or whatever. We all need to learn from each other!

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com sue

    I totally agree, Carrie! It occurred to me that “all or nothing” is what the Pharisees did – it was ALL law or NOTHING and it became an enslavement to others. Grace, grace, and more grace is where I want to live – and I want to learn from others around me and not presume that I know everything or am always right. 😉 ‘Cuz I’m not – just ask my 8 y/o! ;o