How a Misplaced “I” Can Lead to a Frustrating Experience

Earlier this week I had to fly to Chicago from southern California. Our college was in the last step to receiving a reaffirmation of our accreditation. One of my two colleagues who travelled with me had graciously offered to make all the arrangements. When I received my boarding pass, I realized that this colleague had inadvertently spelled my name wrong so that it would not match anything I could use for identification. It was a small mistake—a misplaced “I”—but it was enough to cause problems.

I was removed from the line, denied admittance to the screening area and sent to a supervisor. My carry-on luggage was thoroughly searched. The person who searched the luggage confiscated a few things and then, by mistake, dumped everything out of my carry-on luggage onto the floor. When I explained it was just a spelling error, I was sent to another line to wait to speak with an airline representative. When I finally got to the front of the line this representative first told me she could not change the ticket and then told me it would cost $150 if she was able to make the change. I will spare you all the other details that enabled me to finally pass through the screening area and make my plane. It was a very frustrating experience—one of those “grinds” in life not of my own making, and all because of a misplaced “I.”

As I thought back over this frustrating experience I realized that many of the frustrating experiences I have, some of which are of my own making, result from a misplaced “I”—not the letter but when everything becomes about me. It happens when I dwell upon the rights that “I” am entitled to, the unfairness that “I” experience, the lack of contentment that “I” feel. It is “I” – “I” – “I” all the time. It is as if “I” am the center of the universe and everything should focus on me.

One of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes is this: The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t think He’s you. When my every thought becomes what “I” need, want, think, say, feel, etc. I have strayed from the path of faith in Christ and have deified myself.

When I recognize that I am in this place, I bring to mind one of the first verses I memorized as a young believer in Jesus: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me [Galatians 2:20]. This verse encourages me to remember that it is all about Jesus and not about me and that I am most fully the new person in Christ when He is living His life in me. The grinds of life still come but when Christ is living His life in me, they do not become overwhelmingly frustrating and I begin again to see the glory of the grind.

Do you have a misplaced “I” in some area of your life?



About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
This entry was posted in Successful Christian Living and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How a Misplaced “I” Can Lead to a Frustrating Experience

  1. writinggomer says:

    Thank you for this reminder. Good post.

  2. Pat says:

    Very good John and did “I” ever have a moment just this week! Feeling like “I’ve” waited long enough for what I prayed for.And as you stated the list goes on and on! Thank God for the Holy Spirit because he sure will let us know we’re wrong,and that we need to calm down. I truly enjoyed your post John,do have a good evening.
    Love you brother 😀

  3. Rick says:

    Thanks, John. This was a needed read! Hope you’re doing well.

    • John H. Harbison says:


      Great to hear from you. We are doing relatively well though presently are enduring a few crises (the looming death of my father-in-law, the ongoing lack of a job for one of my brothers-in-law, and pulling our son Mark out of college during his last semester because of clinical depression). However, in the midst of it all the Lord remains faithful so we look to Him. I can’t always get my mind around what He is doing but then I ask myself, “Why do I think I should be able to?” I’m very thankful for grace.

      Hope you, Kathy and your family are all doing well.

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