On Why The Truth is Always in the Middle

I have always been in between, before I even started keeping track. There is this idea that permeates the deepest parts of me that cries out, “the truth is always in the middle!”

I remember the first time I realized this: I was around eleven and my friend had just run away from home. She explained to me what had happened - the woeful injustices and hurt she had fared. Meanwhile, a few hours later, I heard her parent’s side of the story; there was an absolute night and day differences in their accounts. That instance was the first time I realized that truth could be relative and that truth is always in between the extremes.

The world we live in is frightfully gray. I have always wanted to be one of those people who sees situations as black and white - commit to a cause with absolute certainty of its worthiness, abstain from a certain food group with total belief in its benefits, subscribe to a certain political group and advocate its merits. I greatly admire people who do their research, make a decision, stick to it. People that become vegetarian to make a statement about animal rights or someone who has committed all-in to the Green party. I want that - a tribe of fellow commiserates. But I can’t. You see, God won’t let me.

I have always been an in-betweener and I have had a lot of experiences on both sides. I have been rich and poor, conservative and liberal, single and married, artsy and professional, urban and country, charismatic and liturgical. Working through these experiences and trying to land somewhere on the spectrum of politics, medicine, religion, and everything else is enough to drive anyone mad. Especially an in-betweener. But the glory of having all of these experiences is the ability to see situations from all sides - I can never just take one side because I know everyone in the world is bringing their unique perspective that is shaping their point of view.

Asking hard questions should be part of our wiring. Do not settle for a perfunctory answer, or a shrug of “who knows?”, or a “don’t worry about it, just trust God”. While there is sure merit in trusting God, I believe God invites us to wrestle and trust Him not in the sureness, but in the questions. After all, that is the confusing and mysterious story of Jacob:

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’
— Genesis 32:24-28, NIV

God invites us into a beautiful struggle that leads to growth, sanctification, and ultimately redemption. Sarah Bessey calls is the “both-and” nature of God’s work, rather than the “either-or”. But we crave legalism; we want to know that we are right and “they” are wrong. We want to be the righteous one, rather than welcoming the fact that our rightness and other’s rightness are not aligned in a linear fashion.

Its so tempting to set up these extremes because it makes us surer of our footing. But I dare say, in this “sureness” or “rightness”, we have a huge capacity to hurt, to misunderstand, to accuse, and to segregate. Instead, I would invite you to look at things from all perspectives - even difficult and confusing ones - and let God lead you into the struggle with love and grace, and ultimately faith.