I'm really struggling with a concept right now, and to say it's stressing me out would be beyond obvious. It's about rules. Rules society makes upon each other, rules we create for our families, rules we impose on our neighbors. Lots of "rules."
Now, to be clear from the get-go, I'm not talking about God's Rules (a.k.a. commandments, covenants, etc.). Those are infinite. Non-negotiable. However! Even God's Rules were met with exception (Nephi and Laban is a good example, although it would be prudent and wise to point out that his is the only story I can think of right now --if you have more, by all means, share! I'm forgetful now-a-days).
I'm mostly referring to rules that have no bearing upon Gospel Obedience. The gray area where Bishops and handbooks and Prophets refuse to tread, allowing, instead, for the Holy Ghost to guide each individual and each family to make needed choices. There are plenty of those --and plenty of "right" answers.
Examples of gray (or grey, if you prefer) areas: Where to live, how many children to have, where to work, where to gain an education, when to allow children access to cell phones, make-up, driver's licences, etc., what time to eat meals, when to go to bed, how to divide up chores, where to give birth, how to be buried, when to exercise (or to even exercise), where to purchase food/clothing/furniture, when to do visiting teaching, where to vacation, etc. and so on, and so on, and so forth.
I really don't think God cares about a lot of the ways we go about living our doing-our-best lives. I mean, He does (of course He cares!) but what I mean is that He understands how we are all different, we are all on different paths at different times, and how we all need different trials to learn different lessons and any different given time. He understands that for one woman, the choice to give birth at home makes sense, but for another, it doesn't.
What is stressing me out, however, is when the rules of society/friends collide with the rules of me/my family that are not mentioned in God's Rules. Or if my desire to change the rules collide with my husband's desire not to (or vice versa). This presents a problem because there is no black/white answer, but the answer is very black and white. Did that make sense? Let me illustrate it another way. Let's say that Joe Schmoe has decided that they need to have another baby, but Jane Schmoe has decided they are done having babies. How in the world can one compromise in that situation? (Note: That's not my situation, just fyi). Either you have a baby, or you don't. You can't "compromise" something like that, you know?
I mean, let's say you need to buy a car. Now THAT is a decision that can have compromise. Same with house purchasing. What to name a child (there's always something to agree on). Where to go for Girl's Night Out. Clothes shopping with the pre-teen. These things have compromises embedded --they may be hard to find, but it can happen!
But there are still plenty of gray area decisions (not God's Rules) that are black/white in the answers. Especially when it comes to parental or marital decisions.
Right now I'm struggling with one that shouldn't be a struggle, but it's a black/white outcome. I think that's why I'm struggling. There is no half-way with this one --either we do it, or we don't. Frankly, I don't think the decision either way will result in major catastrophe, but I'm worried I will make the WRONG decision, regardless. Yes, I've made it a matter of prayer. Yes, I've pondered for a long time. I've come to the conclusion, however, that this is simply something Heavenly Father is letting me decide on my own (He does that sometimes). In a way, I don't like it. I appreciate the trust, but I'm not sure if I want it, you know?
Which brings me to another point: Making gray area decisions that people disagree with. This one is a toughie. I've personally been hurt by others who are offended I do not abide by their "rules" and I've hurt others because they do not abide by mine. It cuts both ways. In fact, right now, I'm in the midst of maybe losing one of the greatest friends I've ever had because neither of us know how to approach this subject with the graciousness that it desperately requires.
Another thought: What is more important? Gray area decisions or love?
It seems obvious, doesn't it? Then how come we are all so quick to defend the gray area decisions?
How have you handled gray area decisions with black/white answers? Maintaining friendships and marriages and familial relationships amid the difference of opinion? Has it seemed to have gotten harder or easier as you've gotten older?