Curse of Clarity – or is it Blessing of Ambiguity?

My friend Adam often mentions that he has a curse of clarity upon him. I’m not sure if I share his blessing or have another entirely. Either the world is fuzzy when viewed with sufficient clarity, or I have the curse of ambiguity.

On the one hand, I have this deep-seated desire to know and do what is “right”. Most people are content to follow in the tire-tracks of other drivers on a snowy day; I want to drive where I know the lanes are. In a parking lot where the lines are mostly worn away, I would rather find a partial space marking and use that to estimate where I should park than park an appropriate distance from the nearest car. Good enough… isn’t; I want to be right.

On the other hand, I have a strong tendency to see both sides of everything. At work, that’s a good thing. A significant part of solving any problem is to identify the problem, and that’s my area of expertise. It also means that I am  uncritical of other people. Unfortunately, I have a hard time ever letting something be complete or being satisfied with anything because it can always be better. I have to deliberately avoid the trap that James McMurtry’s Johnny fell into: “He opened up his eyes and he snapped out of the groove He saw both sides of everything and found he could not move.” (James McMurtry, Candyland)

I don’t know if this means I have an unwavering desire to pursue excellence, or if it just means I’m anal-retentive; I suppose the ambiguity is appropriate.

Jesus Says that we will know the truth, and that the truth will set us free (John 8:32). It is easy for me to allow differences in interpretation or understanding to drive a wedge between myself and others. I become confident (conceited?) my own understanding, and separate myself from those that “refuse to see the truth.”

Thankfully, “the truth” has nothing to do with what I know or understand. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). Knowing Him even sets me free from the tyranny of my own desire to understand and to be right, and turns that terrible master into an excellent servant. He has the answers, and He gives them to me when He knows I need them, but it is more important that He is the answer than that He has the answers.

In this season of intentional thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful for the experiences of the past few years that have taught me to be less confident of my own understanding, cling less tightly to my own ideas, and recognize that being right is impossible, but that by allowing the Holy Spirit to make me like Jesus, I get “right” as a fringe benefit.

One thought on “Curse of Clarity – or is it Blessing of Ambiguity?

  1. Adam

    I thought I’d respond since I just realized there are posts on your blog that I haven’t ever seen! Doh! It is true that I have a “curse of clarity”. This is something that has always held me back from full surrender to the Holy Spirit, because I wanted to be sure that when I jumped off the cliff, angels would hold me up. Turns out that it works the other way – I had to surrender my will first, then the Holy Spirit would give me the clarity I so desired! The paradigm shift is so deep, so to the core, that I understand now that everything in the Church, everything in life, everything in the universe was all meant to glorify God and give us the opportunity to be overwhelmed by His love and grace! It is so sad that we allow ourselves so many distractions that make us so miserable and keep us away from the light.

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