“Daddy, what’s your favorite color?”
I was a very artsy child, before the winds of science blew me off course, and the design of my father’s Christmas present waited with bated breath for the answer that would decide its fate. And probably the fates of his next several birthday and Christmas presents, given my creativity and lack of access to store-bought gifts.
My dad couldn’t resist. “Oh… probably bright brown.”
My face prompted his laugh, and an alternative answer: “Or maybe neon gray.”
I had memorized the contents of the Crayola box, even the “cerulean” and “fuschia” sorts that seemed to wear more normal names in everyday life. “What’s ‘neon gray’?”
He wouldn’t tell me, and in only a few more seconds I was accusing him of joking, and demanding to know his real favorite color.
It took a whole high school and college education to show me that he wasn’t joking at all; my father’s views on many of the issues in life were colored in brilliant shades of neon gray. And to my surprise, I found that mine were too.
The more I studied the world, the more its ceruleans and fuschias muddied themselves into a mess of brown, a mess that had me, at times, scrubbing hard to find any traces of reflection of my rainbow God. I stubbornly studied his creation because I loved the stars, white holes in a black cover that beckoned me onto my tiptoes to peep through and catch a glimpse of him. But studying them only made them more of a gray puzzle, a puzzle that seemed to have a million- and even billion-year-old answer, one that I wasn’t sure I liked.
Not all puzzles need to be tackled by all Christians, and the answer that the Creator created, no matter how, is enough answer for many. But this was one battle I had no choice but to choose, for my beloved stars were the battlefield. And I’m too stubborn to switch fields.
I won’t pretend to have solved the puzzle. I suspect it spans more dimensions than I can manage while stuck in these that I call temporary home. But the last six years of studying the puzzle have slowly shifted my black and white sky into an aurora of gray.
For a while, I pitted the two polar ends of the debate (Creation-ism vs. Evolution-ism) against one another, waiting to see what happened as they repelled each other. But the tête-à-tête grew quickly tiring, and I began to see the attraction of the moderate middle ground. I now believe that God created a universe that can grow and change, using the created tools of evolution to do so.
Both sides of the debate have called me soft for this, shaking their black and white heads at my compromising gray. And sometimes I myself feel like I’m taking the easy way out. It takes a lot of some sort of guts to stand on a pole and shout at the other side, guts that I don’t currently have, at least not for this issue.
But I do have guts. I will defend my gray middle to the death… or until someone logically and lovingly puts forward a reason to move to either side. I’m no boring shade of Winter Cloud gray; I’m Neon gray.
I don’t want to be so black and white that I miss the nuance of the Creator’s world, and of what he’s doing in it. But I’m not going to blend into the gray background of ambivalence.
This is one of the legacies that my dad passed on to me, even unaware. It’s okay to be gray on some issues, and leave the sorting out of the blacks and whites to the dimensionless Creator.
But make yours a neon sort of gray.
Melissa (Haegert) Dykhuis (’10) lives in Lafayette, Colorado, with her husband Nathan, cat Sophie, and sons Matthew and Jonathan. She graduated from Calvin with a physics degree and then got a PhD in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2015. After years of science, she’s ready for science fiction again and is currently writing and editing young adult sci-fi novels.