THE CHALLENGE OF BALANCING THE "I" AND THE "WE"

26 April 2017

“‘How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
    I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”   (Psalm 13:1, 4)

THE LIFELONG CHALLENGE OF BALANCING "I" AND "WE"

In marriage... in any close relationship... there is the issue of differentiation, which we might call “The Challenge of I and We.”  You can be poorly differentiated on one end of the continuum, where you are fused with your partner and no one knows where one of you stops and the other one starts.  You can be poorly differentiated on the other end of the continuum, where you vehemently demand more and more time for yourself, and you don’t really know how to come together with your spouse/partner/friend in any kind of real, authentic way.

Perhaps this is one of the key challenges of human life, because it is how God designed us!  We are unique human beings.  And... we were made for relationship... made for connection.  Holding the two in tension... holding onto myself while I stay connected to you - and ultimately, all of the “you’s” on the planet - is what is modeled for us by Jesus Christ, and the path to which He is beckons us. “Come, follow me.”

The Psalmist feels all alone (see the beginning of the quote above) most likely because he/she has done something to isolate himself/herself, probably under the guise of “I need to hold onto me!”  Jesus reminds us that it is in dying to self that we find life.  It is the ego - the False Self - to which we are called to die.  Jesus isn’t saying, “Die to the real you.  Your True Self - the essence of who you are in God - must die.”  No.  He’s saying that the part of us that thinks that everything is about us... the part of us that has to be right... the part of us that thinks we are better than everyone else... the part of us that believes that for us to live, others must die or be excluded... the part of us that believes there is no God, or that I am God - that particular False Self needs to die.

And when that dying happens, we will be able to fully connect with the great I AM.  Some describe this as the small “I” (me or you) connecting with the GREAT I (God).  What’s true, according to the teaching of Paul, is that we live “in Christ” - we live inside this GREAT I! (The Psalmist was expressing this reality in verse 4, above.)  We just don’t recognize the truth of this, or act this way - much of the time.

A few questions for this day:

Are you a person who tends to get more lost in the “we” of relationship?

Are you someone who must so hold on to your “I” that you have trouble connecting with others?

Would you be willing to pray - with me! - that God would help us hold on to our essence... our “small” I... while we stay connected to the other “I’s” around us... as well as the great I AM?

I - without you and without God - am a lost soul.

If I try to define myself only in terms of others and their reactions, I am a lost soul, because the “I” that God made me to be gets lost.

I believe it is in holding on to my true I and the We (God/you/all others) - simultaneously - that salvation is found.

It is a tricky dance.  (When I/you/we get it wrong, all sorts of “hell” can happen.)

It is also a lifelong enterprise.  This I-we balance is totally worth pursuing, for this is the abundant life that Jesus talked about.