Who's on second.
Some people wake on the wrong side of the bed every morning. It isn't a character flaw, poor coping skills, being deficient in the social graces, or living in la-la land. They're just not morning people. It was part of the learning curve Harriet and I endured forty-four years ago. We had done well as classmates in our singles church group, had matured as soulmates in our courtship. Becoming roommates, however, was a trial by fire. Our first tension as a married couple involved the morning interactions of a morning person like me and a late bloomer like Harriet. You may know the drill. I'm bouncing out of bed, singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, and relishing the prospects of "My Oh My what a wonderful day" as she buries herself deeper in the gloom of another time zone. Unless my memory is gone, I think her first morning words to me after our honeymoon was in Vito Corleone mob dialect---"shut upa you face".
Our first instincts to the morning person/afternoon person dichotomy was to change each other. I thought I could slip her a few doses of positive attitude, push yourself out jive, and she would morph into my precious morning sunshine. She thought she could inject me with some vitamin D or Melatonin attitude adjusters to shift my system to a lower frequency. Over time we accepted the truth that you really can't change another person, especially those inborn traits that make us who we are. Only later did we discover the biblical instruction that makes it possible for a world of uniquely different people to exist on the same globe or in the same house.
Yes, we're all distinctly different. I learned that in Beginners Sunday School many years ago. Theses differences are the source of many of the tensions that define so much of life. You know, racial, gender, philosophical, theological, political, social, economic, educational, worldview, Coke and Pepsi lovers, and morning/afternoon/evening people, to mention a few. The Bible plan for bridging these differences is so simple, yet almost revolutionary in our egocentric world. It involves a basic decision each of us must make. We must decide who's on first and who's on second in our lives.
OK, I'm showing my age. The Who's on First thing is a comedy routine by Abbott and
Costello copyrighted in 1944. Millions have laughed at the wordplay they displayed in
the radio and televisions versions. You can watch the YouTube video by clicking here. It
can be your laugh for the day.
I've only borrowed the name as a lead in to this article. Deciding who's on first and who's on second in life isn't comic relief. It is a simple re-arrangement of our life priorities, the moving of self from first position and placing God on first, and other people on second. Jesus declared that system of ranking when he gave the greatest commandment---
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like
it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39, ESV
The Apostle Paul underscored the issue of who's on second when he wrote to the Philippian church---
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in
the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind,
having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 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 2:1-4, ESV
Asking who's on second in the process of elevating the needs of others to a second position in our system of life priorities, with God on first. It's how we are to relate to people different than us in every dimension of life. We don't make changing them our number one life goal. This truth helped me to look to the interests of my afternoon person rather than criticize, demean, or seek to change her internal wiring.
Can you imagine how making others more important than self would alter the troubled landscapes of our colliding culture? Notice the shift. With this approach I could actually change someone, the only person I can really change. You know, me! Deciding who's on second has made a great life for a morning person and an afternoon person, now in forty-four years of marriage. Harriet and I both decided that God would be on first in our lives, and that the other would always be on second.
Differences with other people aggravating you? Maybe it's time to ask, who's on second.
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