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Inescapable ‘We’

Some time ago, I wrote a post entitled “My ID is We,” an exploration of corporate identity, how we affiliate ourselves with groups as a significant part of who we are and how we present ourselves.

I’m currently experiencing that sense of other-centered identity in a new way.

At this moment, my wife is traveling internationally without me…the first time she’s done so since we’ve been married. I’m at home without her for a week until I make my own international trip.

Aside from all of the logistical adjustments of feeding, entertaining, and resting myself, I have also noticed her absence in my speech.

Last night, some people were visiting in town and I said, “We would love to have you over in the next couple of days!” We? Who? Me and…? Well, of course my wife was the one in mind, but I don’t think she’ll be able to make it back to a host a little tea party.

Running into a friend on the street, I exclaim, “We’ll see you on Thursday!” We? I say it’s pretty unlikely that my wife will return in the next 12 hours, but I’m so used to doing things together, to having our lives so intertwined, that I can’t even help speaking from that place of habit and identity, of connectedness with her.

She and I share an uncommon opportunity in that we work closely together from a home office. As a result, much of our work and social life is engaged in from a sense of ‘we.’ There are very few decisions we make without one another, from what to eat for dinner to how we’re going to facilitate a conference call.

For us (see, there it is again! “For me…”), the sense of ‘we’ is inescapable. It’s not an unhealthy codependency, it’s the sweetest, most intimate association imaginable. In our (and there it is again!) words and actions, we cannot help but live from the reality of our relationship with one another. Sure, there is ‘me,’ but foremost in my life there is ‘we.’

I think perhaps this is another area where marriage can be a picture of what our relationship with God can be like. An ever-present, overwhelmingly real sense of barely being able to pass a moment without acknowledging who we are in connection to God. Identity, expectation, speech, and action all wrapped up in our association to Him. Even if it seems like there is some distance at times, the truth of the relationship and the impact of it hasn’t changed.

The ‘We’ is inescapable, and I am perfectly comfortable with that.  I have no desire to get away from it, but rather to step into it even more deeply. As I interact with others, I don’t want anyone to doubt the reality of my marriage or my faith just because my Beloved isn’t visible by my side.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Life

 

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Am? Have?

I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I have food allergies. To be more specific, for my wife it’s celiac disease.

Having recently relocated to a new town, we’re regularly meeting new people and I’m coming across an interesting conundrum.

The Gluten-Free symbol found on food products in the U.K.

Is it more proper to say that “my wife has celiac disease” or that “my wife is a celiac”? Is this condition part of who she is or is it something that she currently carries around?

We say “I have a cold.” Or “I have cancer.” Or “I am a cancer patient.”

Most people would likely say that this is just an issue of semantics; we know what we mean, and so the actual words we use are not that important.

But is that true? Underneath, I see a potential issue concerning identity and being.

We characterize ourselves in so many ways, and there is a range of positive, neutral, and negative items that we may select to describe who we are. Sometimes we prefer to claim our achievements (positive: I am a college graduate), sometimes we claim our heritage (neutral: I am an American), and sometimes we claim our struggles (negative: I am an alcoholic).

Are we cautious or intentional about the items that we fold into our identity, into our sense of self? Or do we apply, haphazardly and situationally, the various labels that we choose?

I have certainly noticed that I filter my self-description depending on who I’m talking to. If it appears that there may be a point of contact with a given characteristic, I tend to share that one. If a certain claim would really only serve to feed my pride and ego, I try to avoid that one (though not always successfully).

My brief reflection sees that, most often, my wife would say that she has celiac disease…she reserves her sense of “am” for other aspects of life.

And her sharing has often served as an important point of contact with others. A commonality discovered, especially in an area of life struggle, has often opened doors for caring, advising, and collaboration where otherwise none would likely be found.

So, perhaps the am/have issue really is just one of semantics. Perhaps, in the end, it doesn’t so much matter  how we present ourselves, but rather how we connect with people. Our self-introductions and personal identifications can help that along, or hinder severely our ability to relate to others.

This doesn’t mean that we are ambiguous about who or what we are, that we vacillate in our values or compromise our conscience. It simply means that we have the opportunity to share the truth of who we are in such a way as to connect significantly with those we meet.

Do I have a blog? Am I blogger? I find that I rarely make mention of this aspect of my life when meeting someone, and yet, for some of you, this is in fact the most crucial aspect of my identity: without it, we would be completely unconnected. For others, you know me face-to-face, and this blog is merely one more point of contact among many for journeying through life with me.

And so, I conclude that, at times, the am/have distinction may indeed be important; there may be a significant way of presenting ourselves (especially our struggles) that will help us to connect with someone else. But in other relationships, it really is just an issue of semantics; the relationship runs much deeper than the identification of any single characteristic or quality and so the use of “am” or “have” has little impact.

Of course, “am” and “have” are not synonyms. It would be true for me to say “I have a wife with celiac disease.” It would not work for me to say, “I am a wife with celiac disease.” It that case, the am/have distinction is a significant one indeed!

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Life

 

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Capt Kirk & Zorro Meet Marty McFly

I posted recently about the notion of significant impact being tied to relatively brief cultural phenomena; the original Star Trek and Zorro TV series were my case studies.

I concluded by mentioning that I do want my life to be impactful–not necessarily on the scale of these fictional characters, but to make some difference in the lives of those around me nonetheless.

Upon further reflection, I’ll add in another dynamic: Back to the Future.

After writing the previous post, I realized that I can’t insist that my life be impactful right now. Sometimes, we have seasons of life which help to prepare us for contributions later on.

My thoughts turn to a few biblical characters…

Abraham was an old man before God ever told him to pack up his tent and head toward the Promised Land. What was he doing for the first 2/3 of his life?

How about Moses? He had a pretty plush beginning growing up in Pharaoh’s house, but then went into self-exile for 40 years, so that at the age of 80 he really got started on his “career” as leader of the Children of Israel–which basically meant traipsing around the desert for 40 years with a bunch of complaining ex-slaves.

And then there’s David. He was told that he was going to be king when he was a teenager, but he had to run around like a crazy man (literally) for a while before he actually took the throne, some 15 years later.

These are some of the central figures of the Old Testament, and none of them started their path of impact from the very beginning and stayed on it for their entire lives. They each had seasons of preparation, experiences that God took them through, a timing that He ordained, before they would engage in their life’s work.

It reminds me a bit of Back to the Future. Marty McFly certainly didn’t seem to be on a path of impact–he was a high school delinquent that was interested in little else than loud electric guitars and sleeping in…except for his fascination with Doc Brown. During his time helping the doctor with his experiments, and his slingshotting forward and backward through time over the course of the trilogy of films, he built experience that led to a life of profoundly chronological (albeit anachronistic) impact.

I’m heading into a new season, perhaps officially making the move during the coming week. Will the next three years be a time of impact? If so, will the impact be immediately observable, or will it cause ripples that will only be felt in later life?

Will this coming season be primarily a time of preparation, an opportunity for experience and personal growth which will allow me to be of help to others sometime in the future?

It may be a little of both, some impact now and some development toward future contribution.

I don’t know what you’d get if you mixed together Capt Kirk, Zorro, and Marty McFly–a procrastinating, cape-wearing starship captain who rides a skateboard and wields a saber? Nonetheless, that may be exactly where I’m headed.

I would like a life of impact…someday. Who’s to say if that’s now or yet to come? Or perhaps something I’ve already done will be the most significant accomplishment of my life…something from my past coming back to the future.

(Oh yes, and congratulations to me on completing a “goal“: this is my 100th post.)

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Life

 

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