Proverbs 16:31 says, “Gray hair is a crown of glory…”
I smile in my silver-haired season when I read that verse. It is biblical. My crown of glory. But then Solomon, son of David, King of Israel, continues, “…it is attained along the path of righteousness.”
Seriously? I can’t just claim my gray as a symbol of life lived “well enough?” I have to travel a path of righteousness to revel in its glory? I can’t just be? Just because? Righteousness feels a little too holier-than-thou. A word that wants to rob me of my glorified gray.
I studied righteousness years ago. It had something to do with being right in God’s eyes. I looked this word up, and down, to see if it fit me. If I fit it. Concerned that I was not this word. “Virtuous, good, and excellent,” the dictionary says. Any time I strive for such things, my nose rises a little too high into the sky.
Or more often than not,
to too slow and below
virtuous, good, and excellent.
I don’t want to strive to be right for anyone’s eyes. I just want to be heard and held, and to reciprocate regardless of whether or not anyone is watching. This is when I breathe in like I’ve learned to do, and back out again. Slowly and deeply. To just be, where I am, in my best way possible. To not work and worry about better. About righteousness. About days packed with anxiety spawned by not living right.
But some would argue there is a right way in this world, just as much as there is a wrong, and we must not muddle those lines. We must strive for “right.” But can half of Americans be right in the midst of polarized problems? And half wrong? Pick either side. Both see theirs as low-and-behold and the other as low-and-below. I hear both sides argue their righteousness––angrily, poetically, intellectually, medically, pridefully, economically, socially.
So who is right? And who is wrong?
I understand this angst.
I remarried my former husband in June 2020. He’s an analytical left-brainer. I’m a creative right-brainer––reason enough to trigger a divorce five years earlier. Not that right and left brains parallel right and wrong; but they can, and for us they did and still do, create tremendous tension. Our differences divided us at a tremendous cost (literally and figuratively), sending our stiff bodies to bed, incapable of lovemaking. My mind is simple, yet deep. I can’t figure out things like energy problems and how to fix the garbage disposal and how to kill weeds in my yard. But I will serve as a child’s advocate, create a holistic home, and savor, with all senses, the flavors of a Farmer’s Market.
My husband figures things out.
I feel things out.
In my post-divorce, silver-haired season, I wonder, is it possible that both of us are right, yet both of us have it wrong?
We are trying now, in our reconciled remarriage, to step aside our singular selves, and allow life to straighten and stand a little taller for both of us, while also living deeper and wider, smarter and kinder. Where we can ebb and flow as needed, providing better balance and adding strength to weaknesses, where we can bothwear crowns of glory––his carved from wood and mine covered in bling. Where we use tension as opportunities for growth, for becoming better selves for the better of both, for the better of all. Not better as in “get your act together,” but as in looking inward at self-reflection and contribution, as opposed to pointing fingers. As in learning to embrace a bit of gray and to be okay.
There are days we wonder though, sometimes with great depth, what the heck we are doing. Why are we trying to unite our differences? Knowing that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. That some marriages are beyond repair and best dissolved. That division is sometimes inevitable. Yet for us, there are more days that prove the struggle is worth navigating, that the paradoxical process of giving and taking, holding and letting go, living and dying, will most assuredly lead down a potholed path; but somehow, I think that’s the point. That perhaps righteousness is all about traveling the long holey haul. That anything worth anything, requires effort. And anything worth a lot, requires more effort. Standing taller. Diving deeper. That it won’t be about instant-gratification and fingers pointing outward. Or left versus right. Or right versus wrong.
Instead, we’ll revel together in the glory of imperfectly growing…more ambidextrously gray.