April 21, 2011

Don't Oversimplify It

Life can be complex and I think we take comfort in trying simplify things in order to make our lives more manageable.  The problem comes when we oversimplify.

We like to oversimplify life.  We oversimplify our faith.  Instead of allowing people to wrestle with the complexity of the Scriptures, we're tempted to give bite-size solutions and explanations to questions that have perplexed people for thousands of years.  Things get taken out of context, for the sake of having an easily packaged response.  

We oversimplify our education and career choices.  Go to college, get a good job, and you'll be on the path to success.  The same process happens in other areas of our lives as well.  For some reason we want to have a simple pattern to follow, so we start following a pattern that is simpler than reality.  Oversimplifying might seem to make things easier, but it actually does us a disservice.  

When you wrestle with all the factors and options that a given situation presents; you reach a conclusion on your own, and you come away with a greater understanding than you would have if someone had fed you the solution up front.  

The reality is that we'll be confronted with how complex things really are, once adversity comes.  Think about your car.  Most of the time, this is how it works: You put gas in your car, you put the key in the ignition, you turn the key, the car starts and you drive off to your destination.  That's all you have to do.  Pretty simple.  

But what happens when you try to follow those steps, but don't get the results you were supposed to?  You turn the key, but the car doesn't start?  You're now confronted with the fact that operating a car is filled with more complexity than those simple steps would suggest--a complexity that existed all along--but was ignored.  The same realization happens when you have your degree, but don't get your dream job.  Or you go to the church altar, but your problems persist.

We would do ourselves a favor to embrace life's complexity.  Embrace the fact that there are questions in life regarding our faith, education, careers, and other things that don't have easy answers.  It's ok that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every problem.

No need to try to make it simple, when it's not.
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