Life was so much easier when it was in black and white. Think about it. The good guys wore white hats. The bad guys wore black ones. Life, behavior, and even people were easily categorized – good or bad. Roy Rogers wore a white hat, thus he was good.
For many years, my world was black and white. Church was good. Swearing was bad. Making the honor roll was good. Getting in fights at school was bad. And with such easy-to-follow rules, a perfectionist like me knew exactly what to do and exactly what not to do to make everybody happy.
But then, one day I opened the Crayola box of my life and my black and white crayons were gone. They’d been replaced with all sorts of shades of off-white, ecru, eggshell, slate, charcoal, and midnight. And that was the day I began to learn that life is much more complicated than it had seemed at first…
For example, what happens when church isn’t as good as you had believed? Instead of loving you, the people there tell lies about you. Or when the priest who was supposed to be your spiritual leader sexually abused you instead? Or how you’ve always been told that unchurched people are unloving and untrustworthy, but when you are devastated, sick, naked, and broken, the churched people forget you while the unchurched people pick you up, put you back together, clothe you and feed you?
For me, once life wasn’t black and white anymore, I didn’t know what to do or who to trust. I withdrew and trusted nobody. But then, I began to look around and realize that God made a LOT of beautiful colors – a whole spectrum of them. In fact, I was overwhelmed. What colors should I choose and which colors matched each other while which other colors clashed? It was too much for me to figure out.
In other words – once I didn’t know what the rules were anymore, how was I supposed to follow them? Church isn’t always good or safe, so how do I find one that is? Unchurched people aren’t the great evil danger that I had always thought them to be, so how do I decide how much time to spend with them? So many, many decisions to make. So many colors to choose from. And so much fear of making the wrong choices.
In Chapter 14 of The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom takes the pressure off of herself, and off of me as well. She reminded herself – and me – that we don’t have to make the choices alone.
“The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me. Of course, it was not my wholeness, but Christ’s that made the difference.” (ebook location 3968)
Going back to the analogy of art and color, I can picture life like a paint-by-number book. The Master Artist (who made the colors and the pictures) knows which colors go where, and if I’ll slow down and look at the pattern, He’ll show me which colors go where.
This post is part of a weekly discussion on Corrie ten Boom’s classic, “The Hiding Place.” You do not have to read the book to weigh in on whatever topic is being discussed. However, if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, feel free to link it up at the widget below. Then go visit Jason, my co-facilitator, at Connecting to Impact, to see what he has to say.