Recent conversation between my daughter and granddaughter:
Gracie: Mommy, can you take my trash? (Gracie holds out a chewed on apple core.)
Mommy: Gracie, I’m driving. You can just put it in the paper bag you are holding.
Gracie: I need you to take it.
Mommy: No Gracie. You can put it in your bag.
(Gracie continues to argue her point. As mommy reaches back for a “friendly knee squeeze” Gracie quickly thrusts her apple core into Mommy’s hand.)
Mommy: (In a stern voice, maybe some steam coming from ears) Gracie, just who do you think you are?
Gracie: I KNOW EXACTLY WHO I AM .
And there you have it. An interaction between a mom and a perfectly precious yet sometimes precocious 5-year-old. Yes, she was disciplined and was penitent. She tests her borders for sure, but truly is a sweetheart…who knows exactly who she is…Just sometimes has to add a dose of humility.
I love this confident quality which exudes from Gracie. She is secure in her own skin and is not afraid to step out with surety. My mother-in-law had a description for this quality in children that surely fits her—“a real ringed-tailed-peeler.” I have no idea what that is, but it sounds about right.
Or, as Shakespeare penned, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
The truth is, when we know who we are (as Christians) our confidence can be rock solid. We can know exactly who we are. Perhaps we shouldn’t shove our trash in people’s fists…but we can be secure and confident from deep inside our souls.
When we aren’t exactly sure who we are, insecurity reigns. This insecurity can present itself in myriad ways, most which are not helpful in building loving relationships. We might withdraw, or attempt to “prove ourselves,” or perhaps look for confidence in a drink. When insecure, we may be easily angered when someone points out a weakness, thinking our “felt worthlessness” is accentuated. Often, insecurity breeds people-pleasing.
Certainly the ways we were raised and treated contribute to our confidence, or lack thereof. Our background, ethnicity, education, appearance, and finances can add to or subtract from the value we place on ourselves.
I have been struck by the millions of women around the world who marched this past weekend. As a woman, I am deeply inspired and humbled by the many heroic women who have gone before me, and even sacrificed their lives so that I can work, vote, have a voice, and much more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. But there is more.These, alone, are not enough to give me the identity which brings confidence and inner peace.
One thing is abundantly clear. We all long to feel valued, considered, and respected. We want to matter.
I firmly believe no one lifted the society imposed barriers like the radical man, Jesus. No one serves as a better example or inspires me more to learn “exactly who I am.”
Jesus knew who he came from and where he was going (John 8:14). Because of his sure identity and confidence he:
Was not a people pleaser (Mark 12:13-14).
Had inner certitude, which made him impervious to criticism.
Did not feel servile even when serving others. He simply focused on serving God.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)
Did not retaliate, but entrusted himself to God who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).
The truth is, only through holding to the convictions that I was created by God, belong to him, and am living for something greater than and beyond this world can I begin to live like this…with this same kind of assurance and confidence.
Nothing else can provide me this inner confidence and peace—No man, no family, no job, no political scene, no money, no circumstance.
Though I am deeply grateful for my husband and family, my job, and so many blessings…only with God can I say the words of my granddaughter, “I know exactly who I am.” Who am I?
I am planned (Psalm 139:13-14, 71:6)
I am God’s child, with his love lavished on me (1 John 4:16, 3:1)
I am his treasured possession (Jeremiah 32:40; Exodus 19:5)
I am thought about (Psalm 139:17-18)
I am a song in his heart (Zephaniah 3:17)
I am carried (Isaiah 40:11)
I am engraved on his palm (Isaiah 49:16)
I am not separated from his love (Romans 8:38-39)
When I know who I am, then, and only then, can I strive to imitate those qualities of Jesus. Only when I am sure of myself, can I be free from myself to serve, to not retaliate, and to not care what others think. I have a purpose. I can go to sleep each night with peace, awaking with hope and God’s mercies…new every morning.
Do you know exactly who you are?