I mentioned in one of my very first posts on this blog that I wanted to explore the idea of unity. In the little time I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to theorize that we really don’t have much of a clue what this means in our culture. The idea of individualism – yeah, we get it. But the idea of unity is very foreign. When it comes to relationships in the Bible, unity is a major theme. Adam and Eve being one flesh. The unity of Israel. Jesus one with the Father. The disciples being ‘one’.
I think unity is something that some of us may think we “get” but still maybe don’t. For me, the idea of unity has come to the forefront of my mind in the context of my marriage. When we got married we were told we were becoming one. Yet, 8 years later, we still, in many regards, do not live or even think like we are one. Well, I can’t speak for my wife, but I can speak for myself.
What I came to realize is how often I say the word “I” in regard to something I will be doing or planning or thinking. My wife and I were united in marriage. Why is it that there is all this “me” and “you” and “he” and “she” talk when we are, in reality, one? Why is it that I do “my” thing and she does “her” thing? Now, I realize that not every married couple is so compatible that they feel then need to engage in every single activity together. But how much has our individualistic society trained (or brainwashed) us into viewing a marriage relationship as two individuals? I don’t really have this figured out by any means. I think God has just shown me that there’s a whole other level of intimacy and unity that we have yet to realize – how exciting!
So I’m trying to retrain myself. Whenever I say or think “Me” I try to remember to say or think “We”. That doesn’t always make sense at first (such as WE are going to train for a half-marathon) but it really helps me have the right perspective. If all I thought was “I” am going to train for a half-marathon, what happens to my wife who has to watch the kids an extra hour after work when I’m running? What about her exercise time? I can’t be naïve and think that what I do on “my” time won’t affect her at all.
So anyway, I’m trying to find all the “me”s in my thinking and replaced them with “we”. After all, I gave up my life as a single 8 years ago when I joined with her.
Nice post, Ben.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this subject, but not so much from the marriage perspective, but society and families in general, and parenting specifically. I feel like our society trains, or “brainwashes” people to feel the need to be individual practically from birth, while so many other societies have practices that function to purposefully instill interdependence in children from a young age. I haven’t figured out what the right balance is, but it sure is a lot to ponder.
Yeah – I have thought a little about the whole family thing as well. How many of us have seen tight knit families and wished ours growing up would have been the same? I was just talking the other day with someone about the idea of my whole family being tied in to my personal identity. So whenever I think of myself in making plans or thinking of the future, I’m more often envisioning my wife and kids in that picture – not just myself as I have in the past. I’ve heard it said (don’t remember when or where) that back in Jesus’ day, the concept of individualism wasn’t even part of the social conscious. People identified themselves as part of a group, never as an individual. But in our society the message is – you are a free citizen of America and you reserve (and are given by GOD Himself) the right to think and act for yourself – and NO ONE can tell you what to do or think. We see how people have used that license for good and evil.
But I have a vision for our family (and so do thousands of others) that reclaims that group identity mentality. I came up with this idea that, in life, our children are “life shadowing” my wife and I. Now, for anyone who is in a dual career family, I realize this is difficult (though I also believe that a family can learn to live on 1 income if it’s important to them) . My wife stays at home and being a pastor, I have a very flexible schedule. So both of us get to spend a lot of time with our kids. I want our kids to be able to learn about life by walking next to us. And hopefully, through that, we can instill in them the idea that this life cannot be lived alone. That being part of a group demonstrates wisdom, not weakness. Hopefully, their world view can be shaped by God & the Bible as it’s lived out in their mom and dad’s life – not shaped by society – or even by Pop Christianity.
Think about what we teach our kids “If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want. Anyone can fulfill their dreams if they want it bad enough.” I think this message is a product of our individualistic society and sets a lot of kids up for disappointment and feelings of failure. I don’t think it’s going to far to teach your kids “You need to give what you have to help other people and following God’s plan for your life – AND, you’ll need to do this with the support of friends and family who believe in the same thing.”
Thanks for the comments!