Just hugged Beve and my youngest child goodbye, saw them fold themselves like sardines into a Subaru, and head off on the road-trip that will end with unpacking all of SK's belongings in a tiny apartment in Berkeley, where she'll begin her new life. I kept the tears at bay for most of the morning, until seeing an email from my older brother who has a whole lot of practice saying goodbye. He has a son who lives across the country. And now he himself, lives across the world from his 'real' life. Or maybe that's his real life. Anyway, he put his wife on a plane last Thursday from there and it was hard on him. His empathetic words to me this morning made the tears well up in me.
So I'm not going to try to be coherent this morning. Instead, I thought I'd repost a post that actually spoke loudly to me just a few minutes ago. Even though I wrote it myself a couple of years ago, it might as well have been written for me today. So from the Spring of 2011, here it is, "The Giant I in the Middle."
I'm probably too tired to write this post. Tired enough that I'm distracted by my very first word in this post. How many times have I begun a post with the word "I" or some form of it? Or because I was aware of that propensity, dropped the personal pronoun and simply implied it instead? A large percentage, I'm guessing. The other day as I was driving somewhere, listening to sports radio, as I often do (if it's been left on by a previous driver), I heard some coach or player or analyst repeat the so-oft quoted phrase it's become hackneyed (say it with me, if you want!), "There is no "I" in team." My son, daughter or husband always point out that there is, however, an I in win, which is, after all, the point of sports. Isn't it? But what I imagined saying the other day was, "there is no "i" in [plug in a last name here]". And I imagined a family with the concept of WE rather than I. Training children to think of the whole rather than themselves, to really, truly think first of the unit and each one as only a piece of that unit, a piece which is essential to making the whole work, but cannot work by itself, and isn't the only or most important piece. In fact, there is no most important piece. All together is the most important. Together.
But then I began to laugh, because, as those of you who know me, know, I've had two last names, and as luck or fate or providence or God Himself (of course) would have it, each of mine has an I in it. Most people don't like to spell my maiden name with an I in it. They instinctively don't. All of us who have lived with this name know the truth of it, though, that Crain is spelled best like brain, not like...well, like that giant machine that lifts things out of the earth. You know--like a crane. It's CRAIN, thank you very much. And I didn't leave Crain in the dust when I married. My middle name (which didn't have an I in it) meant almost nothing to me, for all that it was the middle name of some great-grandmother I don't remember meeting, given to me simply so my initials matched my mother's. Crain meant everything. I'm still a Crain. Always will be. And now a Wiley. Also not spelled the way most people spell it. That Wylie stuff I watch people type into their computer even as I'm saying my name and actually spelling it for them. "Oh," they say. "Sorry," hitting the delete button rapidly. I shake my head. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have even ONE name that didn't need to be spelled for people. Carolyn isn't Caroline. Theresa isn't Teresa. Crain isn't Crane. Wiley isn't Wylie. None of these names are uncommon. But each is almost always incorrectly spelled.
But I digress.
Maybe it does relate to my point, though...
My point is that I'm swimming with self. By that I mean, I get so caught up in my own junk and stuff and worries and thoughts and how I look at the world and what I need and who I want to be, and what I think is important (like having my name spelled correctly) and what I dream and...that it's hard to get outside myself. Isn't it? It's hard to walk in other people's shoes. Jesus tells us that we are meant to do this. That it's our most important task as His followers--to consider the world from others' points of view. And I fail at this. I want to love Jesus more, but I don't always want to love people more. Yet He says it's one and the same. And if I'm failing to love people, I'm absolutely failing to love Him. The great big I that starts each post is the I that blocks Him from working through me.
Today SK and I were driving through town and I saw a woman throw something into the street. I don't know what it was but I was incensed by it. Unbelievably, almost irrationally angry that she would just litter like that. I could have stopped and yelled at her, I was that mad--except that it's not really my nature, though I pretend it is. Instead I just railed at SK about how disappointing the world is, how much I hate how people are, what they do, etc. But even as I'm speaking I hear The Holy Spirit behind me saying, "You are no different. You're judgmental and mean-spirited. You lash out in anger and have a critical heart, and think you're superior to most people. Look at yourself. Tend to your own sins."
There's a giant I in the middle of SIN, of course. Exactly where it all starts. My sins, sin itself. It's easy to talk about the goodness of God, the amazing grace of the cross and the abundant resurrection life He's given us in our salvation. But I didn't just take one shower in my life and was clean ever after. No, I get dirty again, because I'm flesh and sinful flesh. Saved and being saved, hallelujah, but still in need of the cleansing only He can do...and He does it at my repentance.
Yep, not past the first word, but maybe it was the word I--er, WE--needed today.