Generation Cedar

I think being American is wonderful and disadvantageous, all at the same time.

We’re not just bombarded with self-absorbed messages, we breathe it, live it and become it. In America, one “deserves” so many things that, in some cultures would sound completely insane.

This deserving myth has been a large part of our skewed view of children and motherhood. And we can all be guilty, even those of us with an unusually high view of children.

But we don’t call it deserving; we call it an identity crisis because that sounds very honest and real. And no one wants anyone to have one of those.

I’m amazed at the common perception that a woman somehow “gets lost” in her family. That children and a husband take part of her until she finds “she doesn’t know who she is anymore.”

There is zero talk like this in Scripture. In fact, just the opposite when we remember those bits about “losing your life” and such.

Now don’t get me wrong; I do not embrace a martyr brand of Christianity. I thoroughly enjoy that God has made us all unique as women, has given us all special gifts and aspirations. I do not think we are to have a low view of self; we are, after all, “a royal priesthood.”

But those gifts and aspirations are meant to enhance my calling as a wife and mother. A husband and children add to who I am and I am becoming. I’m not lost, I’m being conformed, all the time, to the image of my Creator, and everyone and everything the Lord gives me plays an integral part in that.

I love what Rachel Jankovic said about the disillusion of the “identity crisis” in motherhood:

“…the world has a very muddled perception of ‘self’. They think and tell us to think that we are all little separate entities who might need to go off somewhere to get to know ‘ourselves,’ or that a mother needs to get back to her corporate job to be herself again. Marriages break up because people don’t know who they are anymore. They need to find themselves.

But the Christian view of self is very different, and you need to make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are is where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don’t recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out- look at the people who made you what you are – your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them.

Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the ‘others’ will find that they are a very broken little thing. This will lead them to resent the people who they think made them that way. She may say, “I used to be so energetic, but all these people take, take, take from me and now I have no time to just be me!” And the world gathers around and comforts her and says she needs sometime to follow her dreams.

But the Christian woman needs to see, “I used to be so boring! Now my character has some depth, some people to love, some hardships to bear. Now I have some material to work with!” A Christian woman’s view is always forward and never back. Your identity is to be found and resting in other people.”

Our identity is found in Christ and our will is to be always about HIS will. It is only as I become empty of myself that He is able to fill me up.

 

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13 Responses

  1. I completely agree! We are told that the greatest of all is the servant of all. I have found the more I love and serve others, the happier I am.

  2. I think it can be easy to point to missions work and say “that’s serving God”…or anything else that sounds “spiritual”…but when it’s our own home, our own husbands, our own children, we don’t seem to see the spiritual connection…and changing 12 diapers a day (or 20!), doing scads of laundry, cleaning, just seems like work…not “serving”…It’s easy to assume that we never really “do” anything spiritual cause we either don’t really get the idea of doing all to the glory of God, or because we are blinded to its value…
    Everyone would call Mother Theresa a very “spiritual” woman…yet what did she do? Bandaged, cleaned, wiped bottoms, fed, and served…over and over again for decades…people of ALL ages and in all states and levels of need…she said something like, “there are no great acts, only small acts done with great LOVE”–yeah, I wish we could all learn THAT lesson!

  3. Not to hog the comments, but I also wonder if some of the “identity” things in the lives of women has to do with the unceasing activity so many women find themselves under…The thought of working a full time job, being a wife, a mother, and all that entails, plus adding in extracuricular activities like soccer, ballet, youth group and on and on…I wonder if it’s simply the crazy schedule that so many women feel like they have to maintain…and they are burned out, confused, really purposeless, because they never have time to reflect, prioritize, or be introspective…and if you never do those things (with prayer!), you (i think)will live life more in a reactionary state than a purposeful state…and you can’t live like that long term…you just can’t…at least not well…something has to give…and unfortunately it is sometimes the mind/emotions of the mother that break under the self imposed strain…

  4. Oh good! I’m so glad this post is back up. I started reading it late the other night and then heard one of my sweet babes fussing in bed so I went to tend to them and then headed to bed. When I went to read this the next morning it was gone! I thought ‘now I know most of what Kelly writes isn’t the ‘ah, there’s the rub’ kinda stuff most folks want to hear, but she usually doesn’t pull down the post!’

    As far as what you said… I agree completely, just don’t have much else to say. So much of what you write I really feel like I just soak it up and can’t really comment anything but, ‘hoorah, keep it a comin’! 😛

    1. Ha! Thanks, Charity. And in case that happens again with the post, keep scrolling. I didn’t take it down I just put another more urgent one at the top for a day 😉

  5. “Your identity is to be found and resting in other people”

    Ehh..partly true. Who you are is often determined by how you relate to others, but you can’t find your indentity perse in other people, or it might as well be up to them to tell you what you’re made for (I know that’s not what she meant, but it’s true). There are things we do alone too that will also affect others, like writers, scientists, artists etc. Just an extra point.

  6. Thank you, Kelly! The illusion of “finding” yourself is from satan. Who we are is always with us. No need to run out and find it. We can develop in more depth “who we are”, but there is no place to run out and “find” that person.

    1. I don’t think it’s from Satan at all. Soul-exploration is good, and people who travel to do so are trying to find themselves not in other places, but in how they respond to different experiences.

  7. Hi Kelly,

    Though it’s been a little longer than usual — for me — since I last commented 😉 you have been often in my thoughts and prayers lately, sister. Love and blessings to you.

    ~Carol

  8. Oh, I appreciate hearing this. It is something that I have (slowly) realized – but the “go find yourself…do something for you” preaching is rampant – even from the older ladies in our local congregations. Thank you for standing strong on the Word!

  9. I really enjoyed your article up until the end where the woman you quoted said our identity is found in other people. True my family is a huge part of me and have had a part at making me who I am today. But I cannot find my identity in them. I have to find my identity in Christ. God forbid this but something tragic could happen to them. Not hard to imagine in the world we live in. We are mortal! We can’t find our identities in other mortal beings! Please look at Luke 11:27 As Jesus was speaking a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” And Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Matt 10:37 Anyone who loves father or mother, son or daughter more then me is not worthy of me.

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