When we talk about ideas like balancing grace and truth and being a people who are equally likely to dance and to mourn, the truth is that this is very difficult to do. The greater truth is that it's something we have to constantly be keeping an eye on.
Because we are prone not to maintain this balance once we achieve it. We will, as with the seasons of our lives, move in one direction or the other from time to time and have to pull ourselves back.
For example, I think most Christians start out as dancers. They start out as persons of grace. When they come to the baptismal waters and rise out of them, everyone just seems to embrace this optimism that life is better now, that things are going to be okay, and that God is handling everything. So we become a little naive, the kind of persons who dance in every storm because we're head-over-heels infatuated with the goodness of this God we have just met.
Fast forward a little bit into our faith walk, and we discover that being a Christian is more than just believing in good things. It requires something from us. It requires a discipline and often, perseverance. There are still hard times. And this tends to make us lean toward mourning. In fact, we do so to such a degree that most of us go through this phase where we try to put the stomp on those younger Christians who are still in the dancing phase - we take it upon ourselves to tell them they're in for a rude awakening, all while telling ourselves we're doing them a service.
(By the way - we do that whether we are more naturally mourners or dancers. We always think we're doing the world a service by being one way or the other.)
Eventually, we find our way toward some kind of balance between the two, and we think we've got it figured out. There was a period in my own life where I was very much known for this, and it became something that I embraced wholeheartedly and that helped me to keep seeing myself in a certain way.
But as life keeps going and things happen, without us even realizing it, we start to lean one way or the other again. Either we encounter a series of hardships and become cynics, which we claim bends us toward truth and mourning - a sort of "realism," we call it, where we refuse to see the world through rose-colored glasses (or even through the eyes of true faith) or we encounter a series of blessings and become naive all over again, bending toward grace and dancing because God has just been so very good to us.
And a strange thing happens here - we still think we have balance. We have lost our balance, but we still think we have it because we know that at one point, we most definitely did. So we keep leaning one way, but telling ourselves it's just temporary. Then we lean that way again. And again. And again. And all of a sudden, we are a mourner or a dancer again, and the world around us has noticed, but we have not.
In my own life, I have gone through seasons of both - mourning and dancing. I think I more naturally tend toward mourning, and so when I found that I was becoming a person of real balance, I started to overcompensate toward dancing because I knew that was more unnatural for me. I wanted to make sure I maintained a hold on that in my life because I loved being a person with more grace than I naturally was. I worked hard for that, and I wanted to keep it. But being so diligent about that made me very definitively a dancer for a season, and when I realized my grace was getting out of control (that it was starting to look more like a free-for-all than a Gospel truth), I pulled it back in and overcorrected back into truth and mourning and became, well, a cynic. I became a person who was looking for those opportunities to correct others, to set them straight, to save them from the things they didn't seem to know about.
So I had to work to find that balance all over again and, to be honest, I'm still working on it. But you know what? I think the same thing is going to happen. I think I'm going to get somewhere near that balance, fall in love with grace all over again, lean a little too much toward dancing, and then become a cynic before looking for balance yet again. I think that's just the way we're wired as humans. We just sort of oscillate like this.
But I hope that every time I do this, I get a little softer in it. I get a little less extreme in my swings. I come closer and closer to that sweet resting spot right in the middle of grace and truth, mourning and dancing. I hope that the longer I live, the closer I get to living this out consistently. And I think that as long as I keep investing in the process authentically and faithfully, I will.
I think you can, too.
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