I’ll post something more “theological” in a little while. I’ve been pondering some very different ideas the last week or so.
I live in a small town. It’s nice and easy-going. I know a lot of people – if I walk down Broad Street or go to Publix, I can count on having to wave at half a dozen friends and acquaintances. Sometimes I feel like I know everybody. But other times I get overwhelmed with the inner complexity of people. Everything I don’t know about those same friends and acquaintances. Humans are more than just their greetings and clothes. More than niceties and laughter. They are very, very complex. And that overwhelms me. There are millions of fragile cognitive interactions and emotional reactions that play into the behavior of any given individual. I get the privilege of helping people sort through those intricacies when they rise to the surface. It’s the most daunting thing a person can do: attempt to understand another person.
I like to describe the composition of the human psyche in a way that we can all understand: chocolate and vanilla swirled pudding snacks. Yep. That’s how I look at the human race. Intrigued? Read on, friend. People are born hard-wired with a natural disposition toward certain behaviors and attitudes. But then life happens…and with it, a myriad of relationships, habits, lifestyle choices, and information. Some has more staying power than others. Most people start out complex to begin with – like the image to the left. But when all these other heartaches, triumphs, fears, and celebrations are added in, it’s the equivalent of someone taking a spoon and swirling up all the “flavors” of life to the point they become indistinguishable from another. Puréed people. It’s no longer chocolate and vanilla. It becomes…”choc-nilla”…or something. And that’s what scares me.
I was in a room full of people this morning. Not a huge amount – enough to fit in a medium-sized room. But when you imagine the depth of their psychological and spiritual makeup, the abyss of who they truly are runs so deep that I imagine it would come out on the other side of the planet. I can’t sort everybody out. But I believe God can. The layers of identity that exist beneath what I encounter on a daily basis is far beyond anyone’s ability to investigate. That is still very much God’s territory. Only a fool would think otherwise. It does help me to be sensitive though. To understand that for every action that surfaces, there were thousands (maybe millions) that contributed to its arrival. And that’s something I can always keep in mind simply because it serves as a foundation for extending grace to others. The same grace I hope others will extend to me.