What is an “Identity”?
Identity is defined as: Who someone is, the qualities and characteristics that make a particular person different from others.
But what does that really mean?
Over the course of my 30 plus years here on this earth I’ve had several titles and roles. I’ve been a cheerleader, a manager, a surfer chick, an honor roll student, a bad student, a good kid, a troubled youth, a professional, a failure, a yoga teacher, disabled, a Sunday school teacher, a world traveler, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a Mother, a Pastor’s wife, a leader…not necessarily in that order.
I have spent copious amounts of time self-categorizing and even more time allowing other people to categorize me. I’ve bought into lies and false images of myself.
I’m categorized. I’m identified as a Pastor’s wife. Just being married to whom I’m married comes with massive assumption and category. I must vote this way, or think a certain way about certain issues or agree with the general conservative population, or homeschool my kids, or discipline the way a Pastoral family should, my marriage must look like “this” and I probably should dress like “that”.
Should I cover my tattoos so I don’t make someone else uncomfortable, and is it okay to wear a bikini in the summer? Some would say yes and others an adamant “no”. Lots of different voices have different thoughts on what it is to be a “Pastor’s wife.”
I’m also a Mom of two young and amazing children, I’m a writer and dreamer. I’m that tiny woman with long blonde hair, who maybe looks like she has so much together. And that’s all fine and well, as long as nobody mistakes my outsides for my insides. Because on the inside I am so very me. I vacillate, I question myself, my motives, my desires. I say the wrong things, and sometimes the right things. I am aggressive, a momma-bear, a protector and sometimes that strength can be misplaced and misused. I look in the mirror and often don’t like what I see. I see tired eyes and a serious lack of muscle-tone, I see sag and stretch marks, and frizzy hair that requires hours of coxing into place…stay put wont you?
To my College journalism professor, I was “Miss Priss” the girl with all the answers. To my College boyfriend I was either a prude or a slut, depending on his mood.
In High School I was a good Christian girl, or a wild party girl, depending on who you asked. I was the responsible Yearbook editor or the completely irresponsible Cheerleader who couldn’t be bothered to show up for practice. I was the girl with Daddy issues who dated the wrong kind of guys and the girl with a bright future all at the same time.
I was complex, a mess, I was me.
See my problem was, and is, that I more believe what other people say about me than what my Creator says about me. Instead of delightful I see dreadful. Instead of precious I see worthless. In order to see myself as I truly am it requires a complete shift in perspective. It requires that I see things differently.
Pastor and Author Tim Keller wrote this in his book The Meaning of Marriage:
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Although the context is meant for marriage I believe this applies to all of us no matter the relationship. We hunger to be known, to be loved. And while we want this so desperately, at the same time we fear that if someone knew us, really knew us, they’d pack up and run the other direction.
Today I want to offer you a little freedom. I want you to know and own that your story, who you are, has a purpose. That all those categories that you were placed into, and all those hats you’ve worn don’t actually define you. Yes, our experiences are ours, yes they refine us, and sometimes scar us. In ways they make us un-relatable to some and so so very relatable to others. But the truth is that any role we take on does not define who we are. At our core we are each unique, special, unlike anyone else. We are uniquely designed and that our roles, titles, and various different hats can only flow from this originality, not the other way around.
So often I find myself mid-day in a total funk. My hair is a mess, I have no make-up on, and I’m sitting around in yoga pants and a sweatshirt. Half the time I have some sort of human matter smeared across one shoulder, snot, blood, or worse. I find myself so stuck in this moment and think to myself “gah I don’t matter in a big way” or worse yet “I’m just a mom.”
As Moms we can so easily fall into this trap. We don’t see ourselves as big enough, energetic enough, or simply enough. We define ourselves by our failures rather than our successes. We beat ourselves up, for whatever the reason. Our house is a mess, we didn’t plan dinner, or worse don’t really know how to cook. We didn’t read to the kids or complete that Pinterest craft, or worse yet today we yelled at the kids or locked ourselves in the bathroom and cried.
Been there. I’ve been all those “theres”. Sometimes my closet is my safe haven, and I shut myself up in there while the madness swirls around me just so I can get a second to catch my breath. This too is okay.
I’ve had these days, these days that I feel beaten down and not good enough, failing to ever live up to the social media performance perspective. And seriously I hate crafts, will my children survive? So here, I categorize myself as “Not Good Enough” my children didn’t say it, they are happy enough for me to sit with them on the floor and build Legos. But I did it, I said it, I looked myself right in the mirror and titled myself.
And for what? All to live up to someone else’s expectation, someone that doesn’t live my life, or someone that doesn’t even exist.
I so believe these lies about myself that I can’t even receive a compliment from my husband. “you look pretty today,” I role my eyes. Someone tells me I’ve done “good work” and I can’t even appreciate it, because at my core I’ve bought, hook line and sinker, into falsities that I’m just too small. My little title of “mom” is not enough. I’m not a big enough contributor.
Today, if you’re wearing that hat, if you feel beaten down, if you believe lies about yourself, can I just tell you how important you are? Mother Teresa said it so well: “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”
What this statement means is that the title “Mom” is so much more profound than we remember in our moments of darkness. What we do, how we raise our children can have a massive impact and influence on the earth. I don’t tell you this to pressure you but to free you of the mindset that you are too “little” or “not enough” or that you don’t matter.
You matter. In this season as you wear the crown of “Mom-dom” you matter. And when this season is over, when your littles are grown and you find yourself in a new role, you matter. Every breath you draw matters, you are not a category, you are a person, you are uniquely crafted by the ultimate artist, you are you.
***shared at MOPS South and West Jordan 10/19/16