Recently I’ve had opportunity to follow an interesting line of thinking. A close friend gave me a glowing compliment on my adult children and how well they “turned out”. His compliment was accompanied by another comment, expressing surprise that they had were successful and well-adjusted. I wasn’t offended, but I was amused. I wanted to say, “Well, of course they turned out great!” All my friend meant was that they had some obstacles and hardships that they worked through while growing up. Children of divorce often have problems with self-esteem and usually carry some emotional baggage as a result of their broken home. And I’m sure both I and my children do carry a little extra “baggage” but I choose to believe we’re in better condition from lifting those weights.
I discussed this with one of my sons the other day and he mentioned that someone had mentioned to him that he had “come a long way.” That friend was referring to the years when my son was driving a beat-up old truck and struggling to make ends meet. That son is now following his dream as an architect, experiencing a fulfilling life with his new wife in Chicago. I laughed with him about the old truck that is barely a memory now. I told him, “You were more than that truck! What you drove did not define you!”
That conversation started my thoughts in a direction that is so exciting! Most of us go through life being defined by one thing or another. Or by many things. Through the years I have often introduced myself (and still do) as Gene Huff’s daughter. For years I was Bill Zawko’s wife. Forever I will be the Zawko kids’ mother. And now I have a new label….I’m Ella, Danny, and Harper’s Grammy! That’s one of my favorite designations! But I am more than any of those. I’ve also been “defined” by circumstances…many of them were out of my control. Even now, I hate to fill out forms that ask marital status because I have to check “divorced”. By the way, why don’t those forms just let you choose between “married” or “single”? Why do people have to mark “divorced” or “widowed”? It’s enough to live with the situation without having to testify to it every time you fill out a form!
But, back to my subject of being defined by circumstances…. The things that I have faced or am facing are not what defines me. I am not defined by my marital status, my salary, or my abilities (or lack thereof). I am not defined by the car I drive, the house in which I live, the job or career I hold, or even by the way I look.
So what does define me? Who am I? I think the answer is two-fold:
- I am who God says I am!
- I am who I believe I am!
And who does God say I am? Well, there is no way I have space in this limited blog to enumerate all that God says I am (and you are). But just to name a few…God says:
I am a Child of God. I am free from sin’s power over me. I am holy. I am a new creation. I am a victor. I am an enemy of Satan. I am saved and called by God. I could name many more but these can give you the idea of who God says I am and you are. When I look in the mirror, it’s God’s will for me to see myself as He sees me….a child of God, and all that accompanies that designation.
If God says I am all these, and scores of other things, then why does the second part matter? Does it really count who I believe I am??? Yes! It matters! It’s not enough that God says you are a victor if you don’t believe it yourself and step into and live the victory! So when God says I am “more than a conqueror” I only put into practice and fulfill God’s plan for me when I agree with God and affirm in my own mind and spirit that I am who God says I am.
So, let’s stop being defined by our circumstances. Begin to believe what God says about you! I’m not a teacher who encourages the easy-believism doctrine of “name it, claim it”, but I do know that God’s will for His children is that they know what God says and that they agree with what He says. I love that chorus that cries, “Whose report will you believe?? We shall believe the report of The Lord!” Life is a series of choices. I choose to allow God to define who I am in Him!