When we talk about whether we are more naturally bitter or more naturally naive, whether we are a person who leans more toward mourning or more toward dancing, things can get a little complicated.
None of us particularly likes to take an intimate look at ourselves, to discover the places where we still need to grow. None of us really wants to pay that much attention to our motivations and discover that, perhaps, we're not coming across the way that we think we are. It's hard to look honestly at ourselves and say, hey, you know what? I'm kind of a bitter person. Or to say, gosh, I can really be naive about this life sometimes. (These are the typical expressions of being either too much into the mourning or too much into the dancing.)
Rather, what we're more likely to do when we encounter the reality of who we are is to start making excuses. Someone who tends to come across harshly, as a cynic, perhaps, or as bitter will say something like, "I'm just being real about the way that things are. This is the truth, so suck it up, buttercup." On the other hand, someone who tends to come across as more naive, a little more detached from the realities of the world, constantly joyful even when they shouldn't be, will say something like, "This is the grace of God. It is what it is, and He is good."
And while these excuses are not generally helpful in human terms, they can actually help us in assessing our spiritual condition. Because did you catch the key words here?
Truth and grace.
Aha! Now, we are in a spiritual realm of conversation that feels actually quite comfortable to most of us. And in fact, if you've been around this blog long enough, you've probably noticed by now how many of our conversations come back to these two things.
That's because God Himself placed an emphasis on these two things. He told us that these are the things that we need to navigate this world faithfully for His glory.
We have put grace and truth sort of on a spectrum - with truth on one end and grace on the other, and then we're constantly seeking to find ourselves somewhere in the middle. But that can cloud our thinking somewhat when we start trying to put these ideas entirely into context. Because it can lead us to think that perhaps mourning is truth and dancing is grace, or tearing down is truth and building up is grace, or sowing is truth and reaping is grace. (These are the ideas we introduced on Monday, remember?)
But it's more accurate to say that mourning is both truth and grace - it is the truth that sad things happen in this world and the grace of creating space for them. Dancing is both truth and grace - it is the truth that God is good and the grace to embrace that with wild abandon. Tearing down is both truth and grace - it is the truth that something is old and past its usefulness and the grace that something new can happen in this same space. Building up is both truth and grace - it is the truth that God is doing a new thing and the grace that He is doing it here. And so on and so on and so on we go.
So that the conversation we're really having isn't about us being bitter or naive; it's about the way that we hold truth and grace, which is a conversation we've had a million times. It's a conversation we have every single day. Or at least, we should be. And honestly, this is a more helpful conversation anyway.
The question, then, becomes - where do we go from here?