Fair warning: this post is long and sort of abstract and sort of random. If you don’t like those kinds of things or aren’t in the mood or don’t have the time… this article maybe isn’t for you.
In the quaint little café at which I work, we have an even more quaint (quainter?) register. It is very basic and also very old, which means of course it has “character.” One of the interesting quirks about our register shows up at the end of the day when we count the drawer down. If you have counted a till before, you know this process very well. For those of who haven’t counted a till, it is very simple and I will briefly explain it. We want to start everyday with $150 in the drawer. So at the end of every day, we count the money and subtract $150, leaving us with the amount of cash we made that day. Simple, right? We then have the register print off a receipt that tells us the total for how much cash we rung up throughout the day and the two numbers should match. With our drawer, however, the numbers rarely match.
I know what you are thinking, “They either can’t count or can’t ring people up correctly.” Both comments are true and mistakes certainly happen more often than they should. When we make mistakes, however, it is typically very obvious. The drawer will be off by big numbers, such as “over $14.65” or it will be “under $18.20.” On the other hand, and these are the times I wish to focus on, we have times when the drawer is consistently off. For example, in the past it has been $3.20 under for a week straight. So that begs the question, is being consistently wrong ever right? In theory, when our drawer is off consistently, it could be said that the drawer is “correct” but we started from the wrong spot. The difference between 0 and 30, or -5 and 25, is still 30. Of course, if the drawer is under or over, it is still “off” no doubt. However, it much more favorable to have it consistently “off” than having it swing over and under with different amounts. The point I would like to make though is this: Consistently wrong still isn’t right.
The title of this post is the question: Is consistency biblical? Well of course it is, that was just a trick to get you to read this. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Amen) Inconsistency is literally impossible for God. God, by His nature, cannot change. What about us humans though? Can consistency be trusted in the hands of humans? We can’t be trusted with it. There is no doubt that we will waver, falter and be inconsistent. So what do we make then, of someone who never falters? What do we make of a situation that seems perfectly consistent? Honestly, when I see someone who appears to be perfectly consistent, I call shenanigans. Which is a simple, more polite way of saying, “Yo, I think something shady is going on here.” I’m not suggesting that we never trust someone who appears consistent. I am more suggesting that we don’t always take consistency as “right,” because that very consistency might actually be consistently “wrong.” We all have those people in our lives. At home, at church, at work—wherever, who are really good at putting on that mask. They even try to appear transparent because “that’s what genuine people do,” but even their transparency isn’t genuine. I am also not suggesting that we strive for inconsistency. I don’t think you can define holiness, which we are called to, without using the term consistency. If I were to attempt to define holiness, the best I could muster would probably be, “Holiness is living life consistently obedient to God.”
Going back to the register at my work for a moment, the idea of it sort of bothers me. The idea that everything appears to be right (the right amount of money goes to the bank, the right amount is in the drawer) but things are actually very wrong. You might say I am grasping at straws, but throw on your abstract hat with me here and ask the question, “What else in my life appears to be right but it is actually very wrong?” You see, your brain does this thing where it convinces us that what is wrong is actually right. Eventually, when what is “wrong” never becomes “right” the terms do a cheesy cross-fade and swap meanings. Healthy becomes unhealthy. Safe becomes unsafe. Right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. Until something jolts us and takes us out of our world where the meanings have been swapped, it isn’t until then we realize, “Whoa… that was actually really unhealthy.”
There is no immediate answer to this problem. Eventually I think we gain wisdom and begin to ask the question, “Is this really healthy or does this just appear to be healthy?” This can be dangerous if you take it to the extreme and your whole world will feel like its crashing. (“NO ONE HAS EVER TOLD ME THE TRUTH!! WHAT HAS MY LIFE COME TO!?”) So don’t take it that far, take things slow and remember that love thinks the best. I’ve always said, the answer to imbalance isn’t imbalance in the opposite direction, the answer is balance. It’s no use to swing from the side of trusting everyone’s consistency to not trusting anyone. Find your place in the middle. Also, understand that sometimes things that are wrong take a little time to look wrong. There is a giant maple tree in a park I used to visit often. It looked perfectly healthy, but if you went and rapped your fist on its trunk it would sound hollow. It wasn’t until a year later or so that the leaves and limbs began to fall off and it looked dead. Not every unhealthy situation will scream at you, like when our drawer is off by $18.
If you took time to read my daydream/random train of thought… it’d be sweet if you took the time to comment and engage in a conversation!
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