Living in Full Color

I grew up in a pretty black-and-white world. Certain things were right. And other things were wrong. There was no questioning. There was no qualifying. We clung to an idea of absolute truth and absolute morality that ~theoretically~ enabled us to live lives in accordance with God’s ~clear~ design.

Many years ago, I began embracing the grayness of life. Things aren’t nearly as black-and-white as I had previously been told. Many issues are much more complicated. They can’t be reduced to easy answers, even when we think that the easy answers will make our lives easier. If there is absolute truth out there, I’ve long since abandoned the idea that I can know it absolutely.  

Lately however, even the life-is-gray approach hasn’t been resonating with me. I’m ready to leave behind the now stale black-and-white vs. gray argument. The old categories of binary black-and-white, even with the introduction of their moderation through gray, just aren’t cutting it for me any more.

I’m ready to begin living in full color. I’m no longer interested in figuring out how everyone else is wrong and how I am right. I don’t want to spend my time and energy my passing judgment on everyone else. I am at a point in my life where I simply want to appreciate things for what they are without the pressure to categorize them. I’m done seeing things in only the categories of black, white, and gray. I’m ready to see the full spectrum of beautiful colors.

Some things are black. Some things are white. Some things are gray. Some things are blue. Some things are red. Some things are orange. Some things are purple.

Let me give you just two examples.


facebook-red-equal-whos-whoThis week, Facebook got painted red. As two separate cases that impact the issue of same sex marriage went before the Supreme Court, millions of people on Facebook changed their profile picture to a red-and-white or red-and-pink equals sign. I was one of them. By doing so, we were showing our support for marriage equality.

Not a week goes by that I am not asked about my position on the sinfulness of homosexuality, the place of LGBT people in the church, or the morality of same sex marriage. I have to admit, as I have done before, that this used to be a black-and-white issue for me. And then it became a gray issue, full of ambiguity and moderation and questions.

But it is no longer gray for me. There is no ambiguity about my love for my gay friends. There is no moderation in my belief that they should receive full and equal protection under the law. And there is no question that my life and my community is deeply enriched by their presence in it. This issue isn’t black-and-white. And this issue isn’t gray either. And so, this week, I was proud to have a red profile picture on Facebook.


vatican-pope-3a1df363a3d63c56Everyday, it seems like a new article is published about some surprising and wonderful thing that Pope Francis has done. He washed the feet of inmates, including women and Muslims. He decided to live in the papal guest house so that he could stay in community with other men and women. He personally called his newspaper stand in Argentina to cancel his subscription. He had lunch with Pope Benedict and refused to be honored above his predecessor. He brought a measure of modesty to the papal throne. He went himself to pay his hotel bill in Rome.

Over and over and over again, Pope Francis is demonstrating admirable humility. He is identifying with the poor and the marginalized. He is eschewing privileges so as to encourage the church to greater service. I can’t help but feeling like the Catholic church struck gold with this pope.

But I was raised to hate the pope, to believe that the pope would be aligned with the Antichrist. Even as I’ve said positive things about Pope Francis, some of my fundamentalist friends have denounced him to me in very black-and-white terms. I don’t feel about him like I was raised to feel.

But, admittedly, I do have some grayish and complex feelings about him and the Catholic church. I favor inclusion of women in church leadership. I believe that LGBT people should have rights and standing in both society and the church. I struggle with the excesses of the church and the ways that it still runs like a big business full of bureaucracy and patriarchy. And, I still wonder about all the unanswered questions about his involvement with the military dictatorship in Argentina.

And yet … I can’t help but hope that Pope Francis might just be the man to usher in a new golden age for the church. I am certainly rooting for him.


So, how about you? Have you given up living in black-and-white? Are you ready to trade in your gray too? How are you learning to live in full color?



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