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Living in Gray

CityRise June 4, 2020 Updates,

(This devotional about living in this season of the Coronavirus was first published on May 18, 2020 and was sent to the women who subscribe to our women’s ministry emails.)

Probably 4 or 5 years ago I started following my first fashion blogger – her blog is called Living in Yellow. I’ve loved to shop since I was a little girl, so shopping from the comfort of my couch with my laptop late at night when I have a few quiet moments has become a “hobby” of mine. I get as excited about “free shipping” as men probably do when they get a bite on their fishing line. In the old days, before apps like honey and wikibuy made finding promo codes easy, I would hunt the web and take great satisfaction when I found a “secret code” for an “extra 20% off.” But back to the name Living in Yellow – what does yellow make you think of? For me yellow makes me think of sunshine, summer, lemonade, etc. Yellow is a happy color.

Lately though, I don’t really feel like we are “living in yellow.” We are living in a lot of gray. While gray might have been a trending color for home décor in recent years, it isn’t what we think of as a happy color. No one gets excited about a forecast of gray skies. Gray is often dull. Gray is the space between black and white. While I have gray on the walls of my home, I don’t actually prefer to “live in gray.” I am a first-born rule follower, type 1 on the enneagram type of person. I like things black and white. Good choice vs bad choice, right choice vs wrong choice, legal vs illegal – it is easy to know what to do when there is no gray. But everything about this “COVID time” we are living in feels gray to me.

These are just a few of the gray choices:

  • Keep the country/state closed longer OR open up and get back to normal
  • Wear a mask OR don’t wear a mask
  • Never leave the confines of your house OR allow your kids to see a few friends
  • Only cook at home OR order take out OR now actually go to a restaurant
  • Order your groceries / do curbside OR venture out to the store
  • Only order essential items OR support businesses and shop online as usual
  • Don’t send your kids to summer camp OR do send them because you need a break!

There is no right or wrong answer to most of these things. The answers likely lie somewhere in the middle – in the gray space. However, what we are seeing/hearing a lot in the news or on social media or talking to friends is that people have strong opinions. I’ve seen all of the above list debated. Those with strong opinions don’t see these choices as gray. They are either very white or very black, and they are extremely judgmental of anyone who sees a different color. Here are a few opinions I’ve heard… “if you want to open up the economy, you value money over life. If you want to stay closed, you must be wealthy and don’t care that people are starving.” We are almost as divided on this as we are in the red and blue colors of our politics.

So how do we navigate the gray space and how should we as Christians clothe ourselves (you knew I’d get back to clothes eventually). Besides the COVID uniform of leggings (or elastic waist shorts now that it has gotten hot) and long forgiving t-shirts, we need to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Colossians 3:12-15

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV)

Verse 15 says, “and be thankful.” The color gray is also associated with loss. During this season, we have all lost something and we’ve all suffered disappointments. However, I know the things I’ve lost pale in comparison to most people, so I’ve remained thankful. Being thankful has allowed me to spend most of my days living in grace. (I really wanted to spell it grayce)! While I have this chance to share, I also want to say that I’m so thankful for each of you – the “you” that make up this church that I love, this church that I’m so proud be a part of, this church family where we’ve had the privilege to raise our kids and serve for 23 years. I can’t wait for our family reunion on 5/31!

Julee Patterson has been a member of the CityRise church family for over twenty years, serving in leadership roles for ministries to children and women. Julee lives in Houston with her husband, Roger, and their three children.