If you have spent more than 5 minutes with me, you know that I love to debate, to discuss, and to dive head first into the topics that in polite society we often try to avoid. I emerged from the womb with an opinion and many kind and wonderful people have had the misfortune of running into the often rough edges of this personality trait.

I used to believe that it was bad that I am this way and try to force myself to be content with the surface level conversation where so many seem comfortable. I thought it was important to have black and white views on subjects, and that the goal was simply to not talk about them. That never worked out very well for me as the more I tried to hold thoughts in, the more they built up in my head and exploded out at the wrong times, in the wrong settings and often onto the wrong people.

I am certainly not going to claim that I have somehow changed and am now good at small talk and avoiding heavy subjects. I am am writing this right now, clearly my love of discussion and the sharing of ideas has not diminished. But what has changed is my goal in these conversations.

I used to believe that I had a responsibility to understand things so that I could have a black and white opinion on them. Of course there are still issues where I am more black and white, but what I have come to discover is that there is actually much more peace in recognizing that I pretty much understand nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says “now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know I’m part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” What this verse tells me is that there is no way that I will ever understand everything in this life. I used to desperately study theology with an expectation that I was supposed to “get it” and that everything I wanted to understand had a clear answer in black and white terms.

As time has gone on I have come to realize that the belief that I have the capacity to understand the complexity of God’s plan is arrogance. My attempts to tie tight theological bows on every issue is insanity. Who am I? When it comes right down to it there are so many details that are fuzzy and unclear. As a human I find that uncomfortable, but I am discovering more and more that it is also where I find peace in my relationship with God.

I grew up with all the evangelical lingo and controversy, the concern about Calvanism vs Arminianism, young earth creation or evolution, pre-tribulation or post-tribulation, etc. I thought it was important to have an answer, to pick a side, to be on the correct side. But the more and more time I spend with God the less important those details seem.

The Bible itself speaks of my own limits in understanding. I don’t need to have answers, I’m not God, I don’t need to have everything figured out. God knows, God understands, and as long as I am resting my faith in him, I can surrender to the gray on the minutiae that I used to get hung up on. I believe that truly having a relationship with Christ means that there is an ongoing sanctification process always occurring in my life. The more I know Christ, the more I desire to be like Christ, but somehow that feels like it comes with less black and white opinions and a lot more love and grace.

I LOVE to debate and discuss theology. I love to debate and discuss most subjects. I love the process of learning that happens through disagreement! I don’t learn as much from people who simply agree with me. I love the process of thought and contemplation of ideas, but my mind requires less solid answers than it used to. I feel much more comfortable with the tensions of two opposing things being true at the same time. The words “I don’t know” feel comfortable now. I still might want to discuss and debate, but we don’t need to reach agreement. I don’t need the ‘right’ answer to be the conclusion of a conversation. In the end, most answers probably have certain levels of rightness and wrongness, but I certainly won’t claim that I have it figured out!

I have so much love for people and would love others to know and experience the same love, forgiveness and peace that I have found in my relationship with God, but I also respect that everyone has their own journey that does not need to look the same as mine. I believe that a God so vast and all powerful has ways of connecting with people that I do not understand.

My goal is to walk alongside people. It is not my goal or my place to change others, but to love them and walk together. I share my experiences and understanding as they are all I have to work with, but each person has the right to navigate their own relationship with God. I want to make sure all people have the same access to God and so it is important to me that all people feel welcomed into the church regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, color, felon status or religious background. But beyond that, it is up to each person to decide for themselves how they choose to relate to our creator. I am not Jesus in anyone’s life. I am just trying to cling to him in my own life.

I used to find the gray and uncertain areas scary, but now they feel peaceful. Now the black and white scare me as they require me to have a level of confidence in my own thoughts and opinions that I do not feel. Not needing to be right is certainly a much more peaceful way to live, but I have also accepted that God created me with a desire to debate and discuss and I can enjoy that without feeling like I need to reach an absolute conclusion.