Murph and I are settled into Indiana. If you’re visiting my site for the first time, just know that 100 days ago I started hitting my knees each day and surrendering my life to God. You can view the prayer from the home page. The beginning of writing this blog is one major result of surrendering daily, as a way to chronicle the happenings as I move through life with this intention. I also finally decided to take a road trip around the country, something that I’ve felt pulled to do over the past few years. Why, you might ask? I’m sure some of it is allowing myself to live a tad differently, to do something out of my comfort zone and against the grain. I think alone time and separating some from the normal hustle and bustle of a type-A personality who owns a business also has something to do with the trip. Ultimately, my goal is to see the country, connect with God and search for more peace via Him. I’m roughly a third of the way through as I spend a week with my dad in Indiana. I drove nearly four thousand miles in 15 days to get here. Stops included Lake Tahoe, central Oregon, Missoula and Bozeman Montana, along with the Black Hills National Forest in Western South Dakota. I’ve had my nearly 16 year-old Dachshund Murphy with me for the trip as well, he’s quite the shotgun rider!
Visiting Indiana got me thinking about something my dad said a few years ago when I was going through somewhat of a tough time. I was seeing a counselor for a few reasons, and like usual the counselor spent a ton of time on my childhood. They do this to synch some of the current patterns/beliefs to experiences (often traumas) of adolescence. I remember speaking to my dad about counseling and things I was learning about myself. I think seeing that counselor and working on some of my hurts and hangups is one of the best things I’ve done. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever engage in another long term relationship without systematic visits as “check-ups,” kind of like an oil change/tune-up for relationships. I think we can all work things out within ourselves, heal a bit more and therefore live a better and happier version of life. I don’t think seeing a counselor or therapist is weakness like I used to. Quite the contrary, it requires being vulnerable, which is a huge sign of strength.
I guess my soul searching for rationale and meaning behind situations struck my dad enough to make a statement. I can still remember sitting in the garage as we talked back then. At the time I was becoming fascinated with human psychology, and of course through others’ help, I was my first case study. I would typically seek answers to questions or problems. I felt there must be a reason behind every action, behind every emotion and feeling. He gave me a curious look and simply said “son, one day you’re going to realize life isn’t math problem. You’re going to realize there isn’t black or white, there is just a whole lot of grey.”
I agree for the most part. I have analytic traits that try to solve everything, I’m sure some can relate?! I’ve learned that it is okay to not fully understand why things are the way they are. Faith is the one area of my life I’m pretty darn black and white on, but even this I allow space for guidance from the Holy Spirit. I can only have faith to the human extent to which I’ve surrendered and asked for it. I cannot comprehend much of my spiritual life, which is why I pray that I’ll experience a deepening relationship with God along the way; therefore tapping into more understanding. As far as everything else goes, I’m okay with grey. I’m okay not understanding why someone is the way they are or why they act the way they do. I realize everyone’s perspective is their own, and therefore we’re all living in different worlds if you really think about it. Yes, we’re all strolling around the same planet, yet our lives and experiences are vastly different. How can I expect to have a black and white view of the world, other people, or even my own feelings, if I haven’t experienced the same life events as any other human being walking this Earth? While I still seek to understand much of life, especially in relation to my own inner/spiritual work, I don’t deal much in absolutes anymore. I’m open for receiving and giving grace to learn, mold, and evolve over time as wisdom hopefully brings forth more and more clarity.
I heard a quote recently, believed to have been condensed over the years. I looked it up on Quote Investigator and believe this version was from John Watson- “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I like this, as it reminds us that we all carry forth our individual pasts. We’re all carrying hurts and hangups. We’re all seeking meaning, purpose, faith, love, hope and any good this world can offer. We seek all this good amidst periods of pain forced upon us. I guess when dealing with people, even with my own self, this is the “whole lot of grey” my father was referring to. We’re all different because we’ve all been shaped by differing experiences and events, and I mean SHAPED! I don’t think enough credit is given by the majority of the population as to how much our life experiences actually hard-wire our perceptions, feelings and thoughts. What an impossible math equation to solve! The lesson, as I reflect on that conversation with my dad a few years back- there is no black and white when it comes to understanding others or the world in general. I’d argue there’s even “a whole lot of grey” when trying to understand our internal selves.
Below is the lengthened version of John Watson’s quote, which really resonated with me (found on quoteinvestigator.com):
“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an nunfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self”
Perhaps the next time someone offends, it will be easier to brush it off. Perhaps we meet a scowl with a smile a little more often. Perhaps we try to lead with kindness over judgment or fear. Our perspectives aren’t right or wrong, this world isn’t black or white, it’s all simply shades of grey.
Here’s to a few more days in Indiana!