Either fully committed to my eating disorder recovery, or barely eating at all. Either getting good grades, or feeling like a failure. Either everyone was going to like me, or I wasn’t doing enough. Either I was going to be perfect, or I wasn’t going to bother trying.
Welcome to my black and white world. Have you been a visitor to this place? A world where you are never enough, where you will never be enough and where there is no such thing as shades of gray or inbetweens. Do you recognize this medieval arena of the psyche?
But I’ve learned that the world is not made up of blacks and whites, but of all the colors of the rainbow that fall in between. There are shades of painful reds, and joyful yellows. Envious greens, and despairing blues. Hues of purple passion, peaceful pinks and orange indifference. Fancy that!
The rainbow is a symbol from the Old Testament when God promised Noah that he would never flood the earth again. That no matter how messy things got, God would never do the extreme of wiping out the entire world’s population. In other words, no more black and white.
God didn’t create us to be perfect, and although I knew that in my head it has often been very hard to accept that in my heart. I thought that if I couldn't accomplish all of my goals, and achieve them all at my unreachable standards, I was failing. Even in church I felt like I couldn't call myself a "leader" because I was only serving on the greeting team. In my mind I wasn't doing something "important" enough. This perfectionistic ideology eventually led to a period of deep bitterness towards Christianity where I didn't feel I was even a "good enough" Christian, and therefore asked myself what was the use in trying?
It's an extreme view of the world and yet, I think more people experience these feelings than we like to admit.
We are messy humans who make countless mistake after mistake. WE FAIL, and that's okay! In fact, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 that we are to boast in our mistakes and failures so that we have to depend on God’s grace to bring us through our struggles.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (NIV).
Life is a beautiful rainbow, and when we are willing to show off and accept all of life’s colors, even the ugly and painful ones, that is when God can start to move from the inside out. We may not be perfect, but we can overcome all things when we rely on Him. (Philippians 4:13) Even the blackest of nights.