Thursday, June 20, 2013

And Not Or: Learning to Live in Contradiction

My favorite movies have good triumphing over evil. Typically the handsomely courageous hero fights through terrible odds to take down the repulsively sinister villain. We're talking vast extremes of people — the very, very bad versus the very, very good.

But what happens when things aren't so black or white? When the battle is not between good or bad?

When I replace the word "or" with "and" I start to struggle. We live in contradiction daily, but I think I've been in denial.

We are sinners. Like Paul (Romans 7:15), we do the things we don't want to do and we don't do the things we do want to do. This makes sense to me. People have the tendency for sin. Sometimes we do bad things, make poor choices, and we hurt people in the process. But most of us don't want to do that. So we fight against temptation and sinful tendencies. And we often do good things, make wise choices, and love people.

We are a contradiction. We are bittersweet.

So I'm learning — to live in contradiction. Where one person can do something heinous, like abuse a child, but can also appear to be an upstanding citizen, respected by others. And I try so hard to justify how someone can be both good and bad. How someone can say they love you and then hurt you. And how I can accept this in all people, especially in myself.

Because when you've been let down, you don't want to be let down again. And when you have experienced childhood sexual abuse, you want to protect yourself from ever being hurt that way again. I have convinced myself that I can actually control this. That there is something I can do to stop the bad.

I wage war with it, but I'm left feeling disappointed. I am not in control.

Then I'm pointed to the cross, perhaps the best example of a contradiction. Where Jesus offered up his life in payment for the sins of the human race. This horrible death on the cross given willingly so that we can be reunited with God for eternity. The worst punishment and the most beautiful gift.

If only my head could make sense of what my heart already knows. That suffering can result in something positive. That being hurt by someone doesn't necessarily mean they don't care about you. And that the worst can, at the very same time, be the best.

An inspired contradiction I'm learning to live in.

4 comments:

Ceil said...

Hi Christy. Keep remembering your message in the bold letters. Every single one of us lives with contradictions of some kind. But it is especially hard to be taken advantage of...

Suffering can result in positive, and look at you here on this blog :) you are doing that.

Peace in Christ,
Ceil

Tina said...

Thank you for sharing your heart so vulnerably here. Beautifully written and very challenging.

Thanks also for stopping by and commenting on Desperate Homeschoolers!
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers

Courtney said...

Oh, this is so very hard, and (I think) learning to accept contradiction is ultimately the hardest lesson in life. I don't know that I'll ever fully "get it" until this life here on earth is over. I often rest in the knowledge that one day, when we're in heaven, we'll understand it all so much better. And as for the contradiction, our pastor calls it "living in the tension." I think it is a universal struggle.

Christina Broll-Smith said...

Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in the church and in a world view of thinking black and white, but have learned really it's not that. We have to depend on God's spirit and direction, and of course wisdom in knowing what's of His and what's not. Can't wait till we get to heaven and understanding overwhelms us! By the way, my name is Christy (I'm new). Thanks for sharing! Hugs!

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