“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12
I’m fond of saying there are two types of people in life—complicators and simplifiers.
I suppose that’s an oversimplification, but call me guilty: I’m a simplifier.
As I try to simplify clarity, it’s clear to me that people divide around this concept, too.
There are those who seek, demand, and embrace clarity – clarity of expectation, clarity of communication, clarity of purpose – in their primary relationships, and those who studiously, doggedly, and defiantly avoid it.
Clarity derives from the Latin claritas, which means brightness, and to create brightness, light must have an open path.
Clarity is uncomfortable and sometimes causes us to shade our eyes.
But clarity ultimately prevents discomfort, because clarity requires exposition, and exposition reveals.
Exposition leaves no room for hiding, no place to conceal action, to mask motive or intent, no quarter for camouflage, no harbor for doubt.
Clarity enables decisions and actions based on truth, while lack of clarity forces reliance on assumptions.
Clarity brings alignment, because light shines through instead of being bent.
Just as flaws obscure the passage of light through diamonds and diminish their splendor, flawed assumptions darken relationships and ultimately devalue them.
It is not OK to say, I didn’t know if you didn’t care enough to ask.
Or to be surprised by ignorance if you didn’t care enough to tell.
Surely there are times when we muddle through the fog, when our sense of direction, our feel for the decisions we must make, even our grasp of present reality, is not clear.
During these times, we move forward slowly, knowing we will find the light, hopeful we are heading toward it, trusting the distant glimmer as our guide.
And in healthy relationships, we navigate these difficult passages together, admitting we may not know the way, and letting the partner with clearer focus lead.
The shortest path to a life of broken relationships and personal and professional obscurity—instead of one of harmony, relevance, and consequence—is to seek refuge in the fog, to shroud yourself, afraid the world will see your silly mistakes, your grand failures, your brutal pain, and judge you for it. Some will judge you. But some will love you more.
Let me be clear: there is another dichotomy in the world of people—those who try to avoid the sting of judgment by stinging others with it, and those who move through life with the gentility of humility, the charity of understanding, and the grace of good will.
When we freely allow that we’ve walked in darkness, we come to realize that all our brightness is a reflection of God’s light.
Originally published on Tom Aplomb
Photo courtesy of author