All or Nothing

Recently, a friend of mine posted something like this on Facebook: “In a week I’ll be deleting my account, so please send me your contact info. I just can’t seem to stick to my own Facebook limits.” This was the third friend of mine this year to post something like this.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that all of these friends are Christians. All-or-nothing mentality thrives in the church. Rather than see struggle as an opportunity for growth, a way to practice moderation and self-control, many Christians see no solution but to completely avoid their sources of temptation. Things meant to be enjoyed become inherently evil.

This mindset is especially prevalent in legalistic Christian circles. To avoid drunkeness, legalists insist on temperance. They insist dating couples not touch or be alone together. Rather than helping men conquer lust, they impose ridiculous modesty rules on women. The list goes on.

The most insidious aspect of this all-or-nothing mentality is its ability to permeate every aspect of life and make it unlivable. I can never achieve my weight loss goals, so why try? My house is hopelessly cluttered. I’ve already screwed up today, so I might as well go back to bed. Panic and anxiety become the norm.

As a result of my spiritually abusive upbringing, I fight the all-or-nothing mentality every day. This week, I have faced it regarding a major decision. Sometimes it’s hard to see the choice for what it is, to realize there may be more than two options. As I wiped my eyes and looked again, I saw not Robert Frost’s two roads, but an open vista waiting to be explored.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli,


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