Gaining clarity around confusing and contradicting ideas is not as simple as the cheerful song “I Can See Clearly Now” would suggest. From the superficial to the serious these inconsistencies and conflicts can leave us anxious and angry.
This is because we feel more comfortable and in control when there is more consistency than contradiction.
So when things don’t move along the track we had laid out, or that we thought was laid out it can be exasperating. We agreed on one thing but you did another. The politician said one thing but did another. I said I would not do this but I did.
We listen for voices that agree with our own to try to create order in the confusion of contradictions, but with a million voices speaking at once on the internet or in what we read, we can still feel baffled. Biblical interpretation, church policy, and contracts between friends and lovers and of course politics are not free from contradictions. It’s hard to see clearly in all this.
The story of Jesus healing the blind man tells an important truth if we don’t rush through it. At first, the man’s vision is fuzzy. He said he saw “men walking but they look like trees.”
Usually, we are so anxious to get to the part about him finally seeing clearly that we breeze on by (after giving some kind of interpretation of the oddness of the passage), and get quickly to the clear vision! Presto.
Getting clear vision in a world of contradictions is not simple and this is not a denial of faith. It is a statement of the reality of faith and maybe one of those times when telling the truth about contradictions within ourselves and what seems so obvious in others is actually the best thing we can do. Maybe a sign of clear vision is knowing that we will always live with contradictions.
Hope is in how we view this reality.
Consistent contradictions can obviously be dangerously powerful. When someone constantly contradicts themselves in what they say and do, if that person (or institution) is powerful enough, we can begin to feel helpless in the face of it. Enough powerful contradiction can dull our senses to the point that we doubt critical thinking and our spiritual sensitivity. This happens to people who are abused.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. People I know who are in low points in their circumstances or behaviors often still hear another voice contradicting the one that has them trapped. They may need help tuning into that voice, but it’s there. So contradictions in ourselves and others can awaken us to pay closer attention to our values, our human nature, and the things we think we believe.
Contradictions live in each of us. We need to confront them and be compassionate with them. It sounds like a contradiction we need to live with.
I hope to see you Sunday.