“An authentic I leads to a deeper we”- Sue Monk Kidd
I have been mulling over this quote consistently over the last month. We often hear more emphasis on one side or the other of this idea. Maybe you feel this contrast in finding your personal identity in the midst of doing meaningful work with a team. Or maybe you are in community and struggling to be your true self in the conversations unfolding with your friends. Moreover, we hear that when we unite in marriage we “let go of the I because now we are a we.” Insinuating we are newly found humans, no longer ourselves, but newly found in each other. Which in some sense is true, however, there is a lot of damage this idea can create. We all have an individual past that formed our personhood that has nothing to do with this new partner, or workplace, or friend group. The hurts, the struggles, the pain, the trauma of our individual self carries forward into our ‘we.’ To think that marriage or any community suddenly leaves the ‘I’ baggage behind is quite naive. Not just we, but I.
Then there is the emphasis on the I. When culture seems to shout at us that “I am the most important.” This encourages the sole focus to be me: my career, my body, my hopes and dreams, and my self care. I must take care of me first, because no one else will. I must look out for myself first because I can’t trust anyone else. These thought patterns are also highly dangerous because we lose sight of love, trust, mutual care and sacrifice for another. These are the beautiful characteristics of partnership and belonging that we all desire in relationships. Not just I, but we.
I believe the future of relationships is partnership. When we can authentically share our true selves, our strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between, this will lead to a deeper we.
A partnership that shares power, plans collaboratively, respects each individual purpose, takes turns leading, and cherishes the other above themselves. This is belonging. This is journeying the rocky path together. This is where agency and communion work together to create an artful relationship. Hand in hand. I and We.
What would it take for you to bring your full self to your relationship, friends, or team?
How have you over responded with selfish priorities and under considered people in your life?
Where have you seen the combination of I and We play out in a thoughtful way you could learn from?
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