/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » pondering black & white thinking … again

I wrote a while back exactly how worked up I got over black & white thinking – the whole idea that it’s “all or nothing.”  I thought I’d moved past most of that angst, but I discovered the other night that no… I’m not.

I came across some people who, although they were speaking truth, were doing it in a way that cared little for the context of the situation and showed little compassion for the person involved.  It really, really rankled me.  There’s a place and a time for everything, truth-telling (in a firm way), included.  But what I find more often than not is that truth can be couched in love and be far more effective.  Mary Poppins’ advice of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”?  There’s a version of that phrase in Proverbs that says, “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

Mark & I talked about it that night; I used to be a black-and-white thinker.  I knew all the right words and thought that ‘being loving’ towards someone else meant dealing out the bitter medicine, not necessarily gently.  Mark remembers those days:  they were formed by education (lots of it) in a relatively sterile (educational) setting.  Somewhere in the course of life and the pain it inevitably brings, I learned that I don’t always see clearly – that there are shades of gray that are thick as fog and shade words, meanings, and actions.  The nuanced part of life became a reality that as I’ve grown older I appreciate more – but has also given me more compassion.  I’m not certain when that part of me changed, but I’m really glad it did.

Are there inalienable truths that stand the test of time?  Absolutely.  Do they apply to all people, no matter who it is or where they were raised?  I believe they do.  But are there contextual clues that affect how one might receive (or reject) those truths?  Yes there are.  And finally, are there sensitive, loving, and gentle ways I can express those truths so as not to offend or be a stumbling block?  Yep – and ATS grads will understand when I say “Dr. Whiteman got to me.”  😉

I think in many ways, Rob Bell is right:  Love Wins.  Love will always win when it comes to interpersonal interactions.  And Love always knows when to back off and not win the point – it doesn’t insist on its own way.

I want to be known as a loving person.  I’m really glad that whatever change took place in my many years ago was towards the side of love.  I never thought I was a mean person or unkind in any way, but I shudder to think who I might’ve wounded over the years with harsh, black-and-white thinking/speaking/actions.

I don’t preach often, but a chapter in the Bible that’s often read (in part) at weddings really emphasizes it for me, so I’m going to close this post with it.  Whether or not you see the Bible as authoritative, accurate, or whatever, these are good words to think about.  It’s how I want to be known.

1If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

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  • http://sharpenyourscissors.net Laura Webber

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful! I have been mulling these thoughts ans selecting my words, actions and attitudes more carefully over the last several years. This post was an amazing reminder! Printable and ‘fridge worthy!’

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com sue

    thank you, Laura. i am really, really thankful that i made the jump that i did – i wish all could do it, but i also know i can’t make others choose the same way. many hugs & love headed to you & your family… :)