Shades of Gray

Have you ever known anyone to say that gray is their favorite color? I haven’t. Personally I have a love/hate relationship with the color. I can tolerate it if it is combined with some other appealing color such as teal, orange, green, or-well-even black. But alone, it turns my stomach a bit.

Gray is what our eyes see in the dark. We lose our ability to see colors due to the limitations of our visual system, specifically our rods and cones. We shift from a cone-based system to a rod-based system in low light and lose the ability to see detail. Everything becomes fuzzy. Animals have different visual systems and many can see in the dark much better than we can. Some can even see ultraviolet light which is impossible for humans. This enables their survival.

Perhaps our inability to see well in the dark enables our survival as well. Scientists say that even the smallest amount of light at night, particularly blue light, disrupts the release of melatonin which is so important for our bodies to get the rest they need. Lack of rest leads to many health problems, even cancer. So we would do well to work with our bodies and submit to the darkness at night.

These are all physiological effects of grayness. But what about so-called gray areas? Why have we used the color gray to describe the lack of clarity of lifestyle issues? From politics to religion to relationship, we live in a gray zone. We don’t see clearly or sharply when it comes to evaluating life issues. This bothers me no end. I long to be able to see in black and white. I crave well-delineated arguments for or against. But they are elusive. Just when I think I’ve finally got a handle on something, a circumstance drops down upon me and snatches away my well-ordered thinking. Everything goes gray. I want to see that sharp light in the darkness shining its comforting glow on my circumstances.

I do believe sharp black and white exists. It has to, or we wouldn’t crave it so desperately and strive to order our lives around it. Black and white, right and wrong. Dichotomies. And in between is this vast ocean of grayness. Although I’m not okay with the grayness, I’ve accepted it as a part of life on this earth. But what I think is magnificent is that when the light shines, everything we see bursts with color. It’s not black, white or gray, it’s glorious color.


The Bible says that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Do you hear that? There is no grayness with God. I think that when I crave the sharp distinction, what I’m really craving is the light of God. I want to see the colors. I want to see what happens when God’s light shines into darkness, and that darkness cannot comprehend it.

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