Friday, November 21, 2014

Life in the middle.

For the longest time, I thought only in labels.
Boy. Girl.
Black. White.
Smart. Dumb.
Fat. Skinny.

Like a toddler sorting blocks, I defined the world into neat compartments.
One of two extremes; opposing opposites with no middle ground.
Beautiful. Ugly.
Happy. Sad.
Organized. Messy.
Calm. Anxious.

Life was a world of stark contrasts, conveniently ordered and comfortably separated.
I thrived in the labeling, the ordering, the marking of one to this side, one to that.
Leader. Follower.
Christian. Seeker.
Devout. Backslidden.
Whole. Broken.

I understand the benefits of these labels. The organization and camaraderie.
The sense of self and community and stability.
I empathize with the need to order our lives. To order ourselves.
The need to belong and to be and to be known.

But then there came a time in life when the labels became muddled, 
the clear compartments lost their neat lines.
Life got too complicated, too real, too raw and broken open for "one or the other."

It took losing my son to realize labels are incomplete.
Happy? Sad? Yes.
Whole? Broken? Yes.

It took the death of a lifelong dream to realize labels do not suffice.
Calm? Anxious? Yes.
Organized? Messy? Yes.

It took death and grief and disillusionment to realize opposite extremes oppose reality.
Leader? Follower? Yes.
Christian? Seeker? Yes.

Three decades into life, and now I see, much of life is shades of grey.
Much of life is messy mixtures of purposeful planning and hopeful wandering.
Of asking and answering, rinse and repeat.
Always a teacher, always a student.
Full of faith, full of doubt.
Life in the middle.
Labels removed.

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