The Awfulness of Clarity

I am departing today from my Life Journal postings. Part of this current run of readings is Proverbs which, in the vast middle portion, is a succession of aphorisms not always related to one another in sequence. It is harder to focus on a single reading or even passage so today I take a break to look at something much on my mind.

How uncomfortable clarity can be. In life many of us want God to be clear about what path we should take. We say that we want God to speak clearly and directly. I have thought the same myself, especially lately around some questions and choices.

The difficult is that clarity means we lose the option of passivity that ambivalence brings. When we don’t know or can’t see we can refuse to act. When the light shines brightly it is much harder to waver. (I am reminded today of that Mark Twain witticism that could be generalized to the will and purposes of God: ““It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”)

I find discerning God’s will is seldom a Damascus-road moment but rather an accumulation of evidence and insight that coalesces into a clear picture when the right moment comes. For me such a moment occurred yesterday.  I had a conversation with my clergy coach on Thursday about a subject that challenged me and then Friday a sequence of events brought her challenge to me into focus.

It is uncomfortable because it means re-prioritizing. It is uncomfortable because it means a painful conversation or two. It is uncomfortable because it means confronting the fact that I have made plenty of choices that the writer of Proverbs would say are the way of foolishness rather than of wisdom. One of the lessons in Proverbs is that wisdom comes from heeding and correcting and learning. Folly results from ignoring the wisdom and learning that God places before us.

Clarity is like stepping out of a dim room into bright sunlight – the bright light may hurt the eyes for  a moment. But the way ahead is into the light, not back into the dark.

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