Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Minding the Pronouns

Driving home from a wonderful brunch date with a sweet friend today, I heard a song on the radio that caught my attention. It was on a Christian radio station, and was certainly written for the purpose of bringing attention to God. But the problem was --- the pronouns were all wrong.

Years ago a friend taught me to "mind the pronouns".

In London there are signs everywhere saying "mind the gap", hoping to assist pedestrians when stepping onto and off of the railway system. You see they do not want people to stumble and fall, or worse yet get caught in the closing doors. With this in mind, my Steve and I like to help each other "mind the pronouns" instead. We have learned that with the wrong pronouns, we can easily stumble and fall, or worse yet get side tracked with the wrong focus.

Anyway ---- the song on the radio kept referring to "you". So I listened more closely as I enjoyed the song. And that's when I realized the "you" they kept saying was referring to us, people, regular folks, me, you. Very few times did the song actually refer to GOD. It's an easy twist, a subtle distraction, a simple way to allow "us" to stay focused on "self" ------ and isn't that the main problem in life. Keeping our focus on ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts, our plans, our dreams, dare I say our schemes ---- instead of focusing on the One whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and whose ways are not our ways. The One whose plans are better and dreams are more than we could ever imagine.
The "YOU" in the song should have been about the One. But instead the "you" in the song was about those who are loved deeply by the One. It was all wrong --- it felt wrong. I wanted to apologize to God --- because once again the pronouns were all wrong.
The problems become bigger when we focus on all the "ones" who did not create the universe and everything good in it. The reality of our inability looms on the horizon and beats down on us with a fury when the pronouns are stuck on the "i", "me", "we", "us" merry go round of self.

A wise person once said to me ----- the sincerity of a person's heart for Christ can be measured by their pronouns. So I began to notice how often the word "i" came out of my mouth or was typed in my writing. (I was ashamed.) Likewise --- we can catch the glimmer of a selfless soul when the pronouns are more centered around God and others. (It's what I'm pursuing with a passion.)

This became a good measuring stick worth applying to life.

To be fair, the song today was referring to God's great love for "you, us" --- and referring to people as God sees them. It was not meant to detract from God ---- and it had a great message. But still, my soul ached, wanting to see more of the attitude of worshiping God for His greatness --- not because of how He sees us.

So many of our "worship" songs refer to what He has done for us or how He sees us, both of which ARE immensely important indeed, gifts that should never be overlooked. ------- However, shouldn't the focus of worship revolve around Him; His greatness and majesty and power and love and grace and patience and...
The pronouns are too often off balance.
The scale weighted too heavily in the wrong direction.
The praise should be for HIM.
The focus should be on HIM.
The subject should surround HIM.

One of the most treasured and possibly the most memorized passages in the Bible is a beautiful example of getting the pronouns right. The chapter begins and ends with the focus on God, our Shepherd, our Lord. Throughout the 6 verses God is referred to by name or through usage of pronouns a total of 13 times, while pronouns are used to refer to those God loves (us) a total of 16 times.
So while those God loves are referred to 3 more times than God Himself ---- there is no mistaking who the passage is written about.
And for centuries and centuries hurting "sheep" have rolled the words across their tongues to remember and declare that we do have a Shepherd. A Shepherd who will not demand that we get the pronouns right --- but will certainly be better able to comfort us when we do.

Psalm 23

 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.
 5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

The typing of this blog is a transparent revealing of my ugly self ---- that my pronouns need to be measured more carefully. Even in loving and serving our Lord -- it's far to easy to let the "I" become too prevalent.
Just as sheep long for the comfort of their Shepherd's staff ---- so it is with this daughter.

Photo taken by Rachel Klave of Kenzie, a precious soul, now in Heaven. Her adoration for the Creator inspires me; a picture of "minding the pronouns".

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