“I need some space right now.”
For a people who live in such a vast land as America we can’t seem to get enough space. Western expansion wasn’t just a pie in the sky economic move by settlers; it had with it a need for “space between us.” And yet, now we are gravitating back to cities and clustered surroundings that have us closer than ever. Even so, for all that geography, we still use this phrase when things get tough, when want to be ruler of our own kingdom for just a while.
I am one who should know. I am an introvert by nature. People and crowds eventually wear me out. Like an ipod or cell phone, after extended exposure to noise and conversation I need to recharge… alone… plugged in.
Something that I have experienced more and more comes from where I plug in, comes from a relationship that should never have space.
At the end of “Spanglish,” Flor and her daughter get into a pinnacle fight on the way to the bus stop. The daughter uses the phrase we Americans are unfortunate for creating and is utterly foreign to her mother: “Not right now, I need some space.” Her mother, Flor is shocked and gets right up in her face and says, “No espace between US!”
Lately, it’s God who is telling me this. “No SPACE BETWEEN US!” It isn’t so much a request or a command as an explanation of Reality. There are these things I do, ways I turn that are my version of saying, “Not right now, I need some space.” And in moments of clarity he comes right into face, nose to nose, and says, “Uh huh, no space between us.” There is something deeply attractive in this and I can’t believe he can be so blatant some days. The one being in the universe I don’t want space from even in my most introverted moments is the one who says it ain’t gonna happen, no matter how hard I try.
After she says this statement to her daughter, Flor asks her a profound question: “Is what you want for yourself to become someone very different… different than me?”
Jesus doesn’t stop at defining spatial realities. He, too, asks if what I want for myself is to become someone very different than him.
And to become like him isn’t a resignation to cookie cutter personalities. In, fact, it is the exact opposite. It is to become the ultimate unique, artistic masterpiece he meant me to be. So for me to say yes to his question is to deny… my destiny.
The last words of the movie drive all this reality home: “Your acceptance, while it will thrill me, will not define in me. My identity rest firmly and happily on one fact: I am my mother’s daughter.”
MY identity seems to fall under similar truths that I am my Father’s son and no amount of space will can come between that reality. When Francis declared he had only one Father, his heavenly Father, he, too, was claiming his identity. Even God’s request to “Stop trying to hit me, and hit me,” is a way not letting space come between us – in order to be honest and fight well, you have to be close enough to make contact.
I do not long for space between us, but to breathe a breath so near it is not my own. It must be that only then can I reduce the space between you and me.