Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk around exclaiming or asserting my age. I just don’t.
“Hey man near the eggs! Guess what? I’m 33!”
“33 is my number, yo!”
“You’ll never believe it, lady blocking the $1 aisle at Target, but I’m 33.”
“I 30 +3, folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
No. I just don’t do that. I just don’t.
But our little girl does. In fact, she does it ALL the time.
At the park, to a complete stranger, she’ll walk up and announce, “I three.” To the little girl on the slide that could thump her with one punch, “I three. I big.” To the random man at the gas station, “Guess what man? I three!” To the small infant in the mother’s carrier, “I three. I sooooo big.”
Everywhere she goes, she’s announcing her “three-ness.”
She’s not introducing herself by her name; she’s announcing her age.
Because she’s found an identity in that number.
To our Evie Rae, the number “3” signifies that she’s “gettin’ big.” And to her, that is a big deal. A real big deal.
Her brother’s big. Her brother’s friends are big. Her mom is big. Her dad is big. Everyone around her is big. And she, too, wants to be big.
She wants to be important; she wants to be significant; she wants to be noticed; and she wants to have a place. And for her, the number “3” seems to do just that. But ya know what? That number doesn’t really mean a whole lot of anything. Sure, it gives her an important, significant, noticed place (in her eyes). But the number “3” doesn’t define our Evie Rae; it only describes her.
And ya know what? I don’t think we, big people, are all that different when it comes to mis-identifying ourselves with things that don’t really mean a whole lot of anything. Sure, we may not go around touting our age or sharing our decade digits, but we, too, identify ourselves by a whole lot of other things that seem just as silly as “3.”
And if you won’t admit it (it’s okay, I won’t know it if you don’t; it’s just a blog), I think I’ll go ahead and raise my hand, admitting that I’m painfully similar to my little-big, three year-old.
In fact, I know I am.
So much so… that the good, good Father seems to be spending most of His heavenly days (as of late) sheddin’ light on this problem-area in my life. This problem-area called “identity confusion,” also known as “crappy-pseudo identities.”
It would take way too much time and way too much cyber space to share all that He has graciously and painfully exposed to my big-little self in the past six months, but let me just share a few areas where there has been some major exposure and some serious pruning.
Jessica’s Crappy-Pseudo, Spiritual Identity Struggles:
Am I “conservative enough?” Do I fit? Am I too theologically progressive or too open-minded? Will they think I’m “too left” and not “enough right?” What if they don’t like the books I read, the music I listen to, or the drinks I swallow? What if they don’t think I’m “Christian enough,” “godly enough,” “Baptist enough?”
Distorted, identity lie: “I need to be a perfect Christian.”
Jessica’s Crappy-Pseudo, Professional Identity Struggles:
Am I prepared enough? Do I research enough? Should I know more of the cutting edge treatment models? Am I too warm? Am I too kind? Am I too honest? Am I too direct? Am I too structured? Should I be less leading? Am I being successful at helping people change…heal…grow…learn? What if I make a mistake?
Distorted, identity lie: “I need to be a perfect therapist.”
Jessica’s Crappy-Pseudo, Parent Identity Struggles:
Am I being too hard on them? Should I expect more of them? Am I making excuses for them or explaining their behavior? Am I shoving Jesus down their throats? Do they know I love them? Am I scarring them? Do I discipline at the heart-level? Am I practicing what I preach? Do they think I’m always irritated with them? Are they fearful of displeasing me?
Distorted, identity lie: “I need to be a perfect parent.”
And those are just a few of the biggies.
I would never walk around declaring to the world and those around me, “I perfect Christian,” or “I perfect therapist,” or “I perfect parent,” so why in the world do I work so hard to maintain an identity that isn’t really mine? Why do I try so hard to maintain a descriptive, temporary label? Why in the world do I fear not being “enough of something” when that “something” isn’t even supposed to define me? Why?
Crappy, pseudo identities.
Distorted lies from the pits of hell.
Silly, stupid things that promise to bring us an important, significant, noticed place.
As a follower of Jesus, I am not defined by any of those things. Not a single one. My place in His kingdom has nothing to do with how “good” of a Christian I am. My forgiveness isn’t rooted in how “good” of a therapist I am. My hope and security doesn’t have anything to do with how “good” of a parent I am. NOT AT ALL.
Sure, Jessica is a follower of Jesus, a therapist, and a parent (just like Evie is “three”), but those are just my descriptive roles; they are not…and should not…and cannot be my defined identities and my eternal labels.
Because… “I is a sinner saved by grace, living in mercy, and headed for my heavenly home.”
THAT is what Jessica is, and THAT is what she needs to be exclaiming.