This is my husband Andrew to the hilt.
He’s on a bike, the best way to see the spacious, heavily regulated, tourist-infested National Mall in Washington DC. He’s learning about his roots and soaking up American history (he has American/Canadian dual citizenship). He’s following his nose, shunning all maps. He’s here before all the other tourists are awake, he’s on a free bike rental, and he’s doing a wheelie in front of the Jefferson Memorial. Andrew has to have the best of everything, before everyone else, at a frenetic high pace, and ideally for free.
We were in DC with Andrew’s sister, Grace. She is used to keeping pace with Andrew; it’s second nature for her. She doesn’t bat an eye hopping over curbs, down National Monument stairs and across busy intersections on a bicycle. I, on the other hand, just want to play it safe, stay on the sidewalk, freakishly tie myself to a map and go slow, praying that I just don’t hit my shins on the pedals or get my purse caught in the chains. It is a good thing that being married to Andrew for twelve years has already taught me a thing or two about biking and a thing or two about following others into new territory. Keeping pace with him for the past twelve years is probably a hundred blog entries and a whole book unto itself. Suffice it to say that being partnered with such a high energy person has been one massive hardcore lesson in other-centered living. For both of us.
Before we were married, Andrew was a youth group leader. When he took his group on road trips, much to the chagrin of the other leaders, he would promptly lose their tail and his car would show up alone at the destination, minutes ahead of the rest. He would have, of course, unwittingly left the other cars behind, confused and directionless. Soo, another leader, would eventually arrive, convulsing with fury. Over the years, Soo and Andrew suffered at each others’ hands (or personalities, really) and gradually eked out a system of friendship where both had to change.
I find this ironic because Soo and Andrew are actually two of the naturally kindest and most compassionate people I know. I suppose when we walk in friendship with someone, no matter how similar or dissimilar they may be, God will bring us to bridges that can only be crossed by mutual understanding, patience and Christ-likeness. I love the familiar old words from Scripture: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV).
On the panel of the southwest interior wall of the Jefferson Memorial, you can find excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, among which appear the apparently ‘self-evident truths’ – “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But when our pursuit of happiness conflicts with someone else’s pursuit of happiness, perhaps we need to recognize that the pursuit of holiness actually precedes and provides true happiness.
Perhaps biting my tongue, swallowing my pride, and following thirty feet behind on a bicycle might actually bring surprisingly pleasant results.
(Photo Credit: Grace Cheung)