Monday, May 16, 2011

I AM...

I am legend. - Robert Neville, in Richard Matheson's novel of the same name

I am the state. - Louis XIV (disputed)

I am Legion, for we are many. - the demoniac healed by Jesus in Mark 5

Context certainly influences how you introduce yourself to others. "I am Camille Kendall, applicant for the position of Unit Coordinator." "I am Mrs. Camille, your Bible teacher for this week." "Hello. My name is Camille Kendall, and I am the speaker for this morning's session..." "...I am Reuben's mom." "...Steve's wife." "...a home-maker." "...a home-educator." "...a writer." "...Bill and Carolyn's daughter."

An introduction tends to be short and to-the-point, emphasizing one particular facet of who you are, in an attempt to make some kind of a connection with a new acquaintance. But what if you have time for more than a quick bullet point? What do you want to communicate about yourself now that you have more than 20 seconds to work with?

I have two friends who are very alike in many ways, very different in others. Both are devout Christians. Both are beautiful, articulate, intelligent women. Both have large families. Both have a mix of biological and adopted children. And both have children with physical and mental disabilities. How they introduce themselves - particularly, how they introduce their families - is shockingly different.

One - lets call her Lara - will say something kind of like this: "This is my son William. He loves mountain hiking and camping. He is also a very talented musician..." - OR - "Meet my daughter Sarah. Doesn't she have beautiful eyes? Sarah is such a blessing to our family...such a sweet big sister to the little ones!"

The other - lets call her Reba - will say something more like this: "This is my son Samuel. We got him from (another country). You can tell by looking that he's got some pretty serious physical handicaps, but we're hoping surgery will be able to help..." "Tina, she's our adopted daughter. She has a learning disability, probably because her mother used drugs when she was pregnant..."

Weird, the difference. Lara looks at her children and sees beauty and promise and amazing possibilities. She does not define her children based on the autism or the learning difficulties or the color of their skin. They are all hers, all "Jones-es", and all wonderful.

Reba looks at her children and sees hurdles, problems to be overcome, distinctions between "these" and "those." Spend twenty minutes getting to know her family and I guarantee you'll hear the words autism, learning disability, handicap, and adopted. Reba genuinely loves all of her children, and they are an affectionate, happy lot to be around. Still, her odd way of "making introductions" strikes me as kind of sad.

One mom defines and introduces her children based on what they are coming out of. The other, based on the goodness of today and the bright possibilities ahead.

What do you see when you look at yourself? Are you looking back with regret at yesterday? - or looking forward with hope toward tomorrow? In high school (and beyond), I was very much a legalistic, arrogant, self-righteous twit, prone to beat those less "virtuous" than myself over the head with my self-centered moralism. Thankfully, after several decades of being pummeled against a Rock, I truly believe I am a much softer person today. I am not who I once was.

Sometimes, I think we stay so chained to the sins of our past, so despondent about past failures, so preoccupied with who we used to be, that we fail to look up and see how much God has moved us toward Glory. Our eyes are focused on the horizon behind us instead of the horizon ahead. Sadly, this robs us of much joy in this sanctification journey. Gratitude for God's faithfulness and goodness in transforming us becomes elusive.

I encourage you today, Dear Reader - Look up. Look ahead. Look not to past failures, but to Jesus and the joy of Glory.

I am a princess, a daughter of the Most High King. - my sister Katherine

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