Today as I sat in silence, an old song was running through my mind. It’s a ballad by LDS songwriter Michael McLean and each verse portrays a stage of a women’s life and has her perplexed by her role in her various relationships–with friends, spouse, children and spiritual journey. The refrain asks “Which part is mine and which part is yours?”
I thought about this song as I pondered my various relationships. I wondered, for example, about my children’s growing autonomy. At what point do I intervene and help them to solve their problems and when do I let them learn their own lessons? How much do I hover? When it is better to let them strike out on their own? How can I affirm my love without stifling them or breaking their will? And are there moments when I am too aloof, too absorbed in my own projects?
I thought about it in terms of my relationship with John. I considered the significant investment I have in him and how difficult it is for me when, like this last week, he is out of town. And I wonder what the best balance is between absorbing myself in him and pursuing my own goals & desires? I considered those moments when my being self-focused weakens our relationship. Yet I also think that, in many ways, I can only be a good partner when I have a strong self to offer. Which part is mine and which part is his, indeed?
This line of thought also has resonance with my involvement in the larger community of Friends. For the past two years I’ve mostly been a recipient–indulging in the efforts of others’ planning, sharing, and ministry. This has been a necessary time to nourish my wounded soul. Accepting the care of others has allowed me space and time for healing. I wonder, though, if it isn’t my turn to serve? As I sat in Meeting today and acknowledged each person in the circle I realized that I have much to give. I am no longer the girl in corner who is constantly on the verge of tears, who has no voice to speak in Meeting. Perhaps ironically, this brings to mind some words from my patriarchal blessing, an admonishment to “move with confidence because there are many who look to you as an example and who will receive encouragement from you through your example.” I am starting to feel that it is “my part” to become more active in the Meeting community. Perhaps it is time to return some of what I have received.