Living In The Grey
There is an age-old debate over nature and nurture. Are you who you are, because that is who have been created to be? Your created nature is the driving force behind everything. Your decisions, your actions, your likes, your dislikes, your fears as well as your strengths are all the result of your creation.
Or are you who you are because of what you have been taught? The nurturing you have received is the driving force behind everything. Your decisions, your actions, your likes, your dislikes, your fears as well as your strengths are the result of what your family, your friends and your culture have taught you.
I propose that the answer is “Yes”. On both accounts. “Yes” you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. “Yes” you have been given gifts, talents, and a soul that makes you uniquely you. “Yes” God has placed you right here, right now, for a reason. This isn’t an accident. You aren’t an accident. You are a part of God’s divine plan for this world.
But also “Yes” you have learned how to live, by interacting with the people and the world around you. “Yes” you have had to do what was necessary to stay safe and to meet your needs for love, acceptance and community. “Yes” you have been taught what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what is acceptable and what isn’t. You are participating in this world’s plan for you; based on who you are, where you live and the people who influence your life.
If your answer to the age-old debate over nature and nurture is “Yes”, what does that mean for your everyday life? It means that things aren’t as cut and dry, black and white, as some would like you to believe. It means that you find yourself living in the grey. Both nature and nurture influencing who you decide to be.
The ability to decide who to be is the very thing that makes it so hard to live in the “Yes”. It’s much easier to live believing that this is who I am, who I have been created to be. Believing that I have no power to change or redirect anything about myself or my life. It’s also much easier to live believing that who I am is necessary, because of the world around me. Believing that I have to be who the world tells me to be. It’s very hard to live understanding that I have been created in a specific way, at a specific time, for a specific purpose. But that I also have choices to make within that creation.
God has created each of us perfectly. But the world also corrupts each of us perfectly. The sin that is part of your life, my life, everyone’s life, because of living in this fallen world, causes you to naturally fear anyone or anything that you perceive as different than yourself. The very diversity of life in this world, that is a gift from God, is also the very thing that the world uses to teach all of us to build walls.
We come out of our mother’s womb loving ourselves. This sin-stained world corrupts that self-love. For the world teaches us to love only those who look like us, act like us and talk like us. The world teaches us a pact mentality and a safety in numbers perspective. Anyone who is different is seen as a threat to your self-love, your self-value. Thus, the result is the mistreatment of the others around you.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) This teaching of Jesus, known as The Golden Rule, speaks into our nature or nurture debate. Your self-love, which is a gift from God, can serve as the guiding principal in all of your relationships. You can use your self-love to guide you into mistreating anyone who is different than yourself. Or you can do to others, relate to others and see the others as you desire others to do to you, relate to you and see you.
Don’t allow the fear of others to prevent you from being who you are. Don’t allow the fear of others to also prevent the others from being who they are. Live in the grey and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Even if, and especially when, your neighbor isn’t exactly like you.