It’s not me,” we all say to ourselves at different points or predicaments in our lives. “It’s just not me.” This statement, “It’s not me” is declared (or yelled!) because our well carved out plans we’ve all planned for and have diligently made happen for ourselves in both our personal and professional lives are being un-carved by something or someone. This “It isn’t my stuff” is not supposed to happen to our carvings. Other people’s, yeah, but not ours.
Yet. It’s those unexpected and intrusions that define and redefines who we are as men and women, or add an adjective…as man and women in the Christian tradition, if you wish.
“Unintended consequences” is our society’s cute, nice phrase for those not-so-nice but awkwardly, necessary intrusions.
I knew that it was me but nobody else thought that way about me while in my high school seminary after 8th grade. How’d that happen? Picking scrimmage teams in high school the reluctant picker’s response was, “Well, okay, We’ll take Joe.” (I was the last one standing! Choice?!) Concession or choice? Pity? I think you get the message.
Observe your life from afar for a moment and now this small, living, breathing thing is in front of you and needs to be feed, cared for and watched over. And feeding is far more than once a day. And don’t tell me that you sometimes think to yourself, this is just “not me.” “It’s just not me.” But it is. And this kid looks up to you as if you are the beginning and end of life (which at this point you are!) – through a child’s eyes you are entirely the beginning of everything and the arbitrator of all things important that relate to this small thing that consumes most of your household foods. Do you know what happens to consumed food? It suddenly becomes do-do. And why is it called “do do” when it’s “done done?”
So not only is feeding your child a daily task but your kid’s cleansing of that food only to have it repeated tomorrow. So you say to yourself, “This is definitely not me” while holding out for those future Brewer games or someday visits to the Zoo.
Your child’s eyes only see purity or clear vision – it’s a clarity of love that only God envies. Because you see, God only holds your child’s attention in the Bible stories you tell at night but you get to touch those tiny hands and those awakening eyes and those endless questions beginning with “why” and ending with your useless responses. And you say to yourself, “It’s not me…but, but.” “It’s just not me.”
But back to me. In my seminary high school there were sixty of us guys sleeping and snoring together in a huge dorm and only one of them became a priest. Quess which one? Is it an historical fluke or is it God’s fluke? In graduate school I learned terms like the “hypostatic union,” “hermeneutics,” “I Thou” relationship; I was taught quick defenses when “justification by faith alone” arguments would be launched at me by protestants, Latin terms that would dazzle you…but only after you had a few cocktails…yet…I discovered that at cocktail parties these things never, ever came up. Wasted graduate money when the question most asked of a pastor is about postponing that raffle because it conflicts with our Friday Fish Fry. “It’s not me.” “It’s just not me.”
(Alas, if only you knew that I, personally, hold answers to questions you’ve never asked.)
And yet Your aging father is in a nursing home and his life decisions are all yours now along with his weekly laundry and his constant complaining that he never sees you and you say to yourself, “It’s not me.” “It’s just not me.
” The neighbor’s hedge is way too high as you pull out of your driveway each morning and you’ve reminded her countless times about them and she thinks to herself, “It’s not me.” After all, “it’s not me” affects other people as well as yourself.
“It’s not me,” you say to yourself as your 50 year old body begins to talk to you. You didn’t even know that it could talk but it’s talking now – every day. Your body says that “It hurts here; no, I meant there; no, I mean behind and near there.” You clearly discover now that it was much easier talking to your young child than talking back to your body. The kid listened intently waiting for the Bible story’s ending, your body now has a mind of its own and you dread the ending. “It’s not me.” I guess you get the point.
I’ve been doing this preaching stuff for 35 years and I’m the guy who worries about my stuttering in front of you, every single Sunday. I’m supposed to be standing before you each time and deliver something of substance and meaning. Well, they said that it wasn’t me but it ended up with you listening to my ramblings about stuff I think about. I love it.
(And really, I was taught the answers, just ask me the right questions!)
When we say “it’s not me,”…could it be that perhaps, maybe, luckily, providential that God… perhaps, maybe, luckily or providentially had something to do with it?