For years, I knew exactly who I was. I claimed sister, daughter, teacher and mom as my identity and the security these names gave me lasted until recently. I understand we travel through different seasons of life. But four or so years ago, things changed at such a rapid pace, I couldn’t keep up.
The first change came when my mom passed away. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I claimed motherless daughter as a new piece of my identity and carried the weight of those words as a burden. This was just the beginning of the journey God invited me into as He redefines and repurposes me.
Retirement came on the heels of losing my mom and I felt lost. I proudly carried the title teacher for thirty years and as fast as I earned that name, it seemed to disappear. I let the loss of who I was identify me and my insides began to crumble.
God constantly reworks our identities as we follow Him on the path to becoming. He redefines and repurposes us in a dance of new life. One invitation is all it takes to enter into the gentle rhythm that reminds us of our identity in Him.
This past year, I am learning again who God says I am. There is a place of deep rooted knowing and the pruning begins when I stop naming myself as a burden and begin to embrace the reflection God sees. It starts with a daily awakening that begins with remembering that God chose me and named me even before I was born. The work is hard and somedays I’ll admit all I see is the nameless face staring back at me in the mirror.
Just last week, after thinking I was making progress, I learned again that I need to turn back daily to God’s truth about my identity. The one that I claim many times is one that feels the need to prove my worth to receive the gift of love and acceptance. I had to ask myself if this is where I wanted to stop or did I believe God knew best.
Truth telling is easy when it comes to other people. When I try it on myself, a different story emerges. But immersing yourself in community that walks you through the truth in love and grace works wonders, when all you see and hear is what is echoing in your head.
May I invite you to take one step with me today? Are you willing to claim who God knows you are instead of who you think you are? What will your first step look like?
For me, it is remembering not to be afraid to be a beginner. My season of loss changed my identity on the outside. But God and who He says I am has never changed on the inside.
I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. – Luke 6:35-36, MSG
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It is okay to admit you are beginner. When life circumstances alter drastically, you can still rest in knowing that who God says you are will never change.
Emily P. Freeman says it best:
We want our circumstances to change, to start again, to be brand new.
But when they change, we often don’t give ourselves permission to be new within them.
Instead, we want to rush ahead to mastery. We think we ought to know how to navigate the
newness, especially if it’s something we wanted, something we prayed for, waited for, asked
for, or planned. The Next Right Thing podcast
Be a beginner for as long as you need and know this is exactly where you should be.
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You’re the second person to mention this podcast today. I must check it out. Also,
Mary: Great reminder of who we are. Our identity does often get caught up in what we do and the roles we play. And change can set us in a tail spin. So glad God refines and repurposes us. That our true identity comes from him. I know this, but some days it is so hard to remember. To accept as truth.
You may be motherless, but remember that God is near to the orphan
I think it is the loss of people in my life that has made me reflect on who I am more than anything else. More so than any job I’ve held, it has been relationships that define me. As those relationships have changed or been lost I’ve found that I look more and more to my relationship with God. Ultimately, I pray it is my relationship with Him that defines who I am. Like you, Mary, I’ve found that this inner relationship is vital during those times when I’m pushed out of my comfort zone into “new” experiences. Blessings on your weekend, sweet friend!
Such a thoughtful and well-written post. We all struggle after major life changes. I have had so many identity changes in my lifetime so now I just say “I am the daughter of the Most High God and He delights in me.” Amen. That is who I am. I am His.
Thank you, Susan! Your encouragement means so much. I need to claim who God says I am first before going down the rabbit trail into other places that aren’t God’s truth. So glad to have you here!
Awwww, Mary…you’re speaking to my heart! Identity has been a strong theme in my life for a number of years now. The identity I claim most often is “God’s girl.” I know I belong to Him. But, I still struggle with other things regarding my identity. I forget sometimes, that God’s girl, doesn’t need to please anyone, becuase she’s already a delight in her Father’s eyes.
I loved what you said aobut not being afraid to be a beginner. There’s not shame in that!
Beautiful post, my friend!
You have written about identity so I know this is something you think about. I love that you claim “God’s girl”. I’m sure we all lose sight of who God says we are as we are faced with certain challenges. I know for me it is many times wrapped up in whether I think I’m “enough” or whether others believe that. But God gives us the grace to be a beginner when life changes affect who we think we are. Always blessed when you join in and share your insight.
I identify with that trying to prove our worth to be loved and accepted, Mary. With you, I want to “stop naming myself as a burden and begin to embrace the reflection God sees.” I have come a long way, but I’m still such a work-in-progress in being grounded in my identity in Christ. I love that from God’s side our identity is secure, even when it feels shaky from our side. Love and hugs to you!
I will always be a work-in-progress. But I Know that God is patient and I can change what I believe about myself by instead embracing the truth of what God says. God is unchanging and who He says we are has been established even before we were born. May we rest in who God says we are and on the difficult days may we turn back to Him for truth
Like you, I’ve journeyed through many different “titles”….Daughter, Mom, Wife, Friend, Teacher, Writer, Non-profit Leader. There’s something innate in us that has to be able to say, “Hi, I’m Bev and I’m a ___________.” (fill in the blank). Though our titles may always be shifting and sometimes there just isn’t a title that fits and we feel like a nobody, there is ALWAYS one title that fits and that is Daughter of God. This is my identity. I even said that to someone once when they asked what I am. They kind of looked at me strangely, but then kind of liked it. It is so freeing to not have to keep proving your worth. God spoke that to me BIG TIME when I was recuperating from surgery and I could do absolutely NOTHING. That’s when it really sunk in that I am really loved and valued by God even if there is absolutely nothing I can do to prove my worth….I am worthy because He says so….
When we get to a certain age, for good or bad, we have many titles to claim. I don’t mind that at all. What I find hard is how often and quickly it can change. It does leave me with an unsettled feeling, but as you say, we are always Daughter of God. That’s the identity we should never let go and know that it is always ours too claim. It is unchanging as God is unchanging. I also love how you remind me I am over and worthy because God says so. Now that is truth I can wrap my head around.
Thanks for sharing what God has been teaching you about identity, Mary! It is hard when circumstances change and we feel aspects of our identity shifting. I love the Emily Freeman quote and the reminder that it’s okay to be a beginner and to take time to adjust!
It seems that all the work I am doing in my life right now revolves around identity. God continues to bring it up in so many different ways. It is definitely hard work, but the fruit that is already blooming is worth the challenge. I love the Emily Freeman quote too. In fact, I love everything of hers. Blessings!
Thank you for these great thoughts today. I am still finding that I often tie up my identity with the season that I am in. But your words helped to confirm in me, that God sees who I am, from within the season, and that who I am is held so secure in HIM. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with this today!
I’m glad God is teaching me about identity. It is too easy for me to hold onto the lies that come from what others are saying and in the process I lose who I really am. I found that going through so many changes in such a short period of time was messing with me. But with hard work and a group of people surrounding me, I am learning to rest in who God says I am. I still have a long way to go, but I am in a much better place. I pray you know that your identity rests in God. He created beautiful you even before you were born.
Navigating the newness. Gosh, I like that phrase. Every new step is navigating a new place, yet who God is, who we are in Christ, stays constant. It’s when I forget, or still hold on to my old-self that my steps are more taken in fear, in striving to prove my own worth. A year and a half ago I dived deeply into a study on my identity in Christ that was transforming. To master it is a process though. Like a series you had before, it is a constant surrendering to Him. And always, as you remind us, to know who God says we are never changes!
I love that you shared how God is transforming you. It is hard work and it is easier to just claim what others or the world says about us, but that’s not really who we are. Emily Freeman has a beautiful way with words, doesn’t she? Navigating the newness is a great image as we let God continue to redefine and repurpose our identity. Ultimately we want to know without doubt that who we are is who God says we are. May we never tire of surrendering to God in this process.
Mary, that label “motherless daughter” about breaks my heart. Although she is still with us, I had some deep soul work to do when my mom started aging. And now all over again that my “mom” label is changing when my youngest goes to college in September. Thanks for reminding me I’m a beloved daughter of God.
Lisa Jo Baker coined the phrase “motherless daughter” first. At least that is where I first heard it. It truly has been a deep heart work to redefine my identity and to understand that even though things are changing on the outside, God has never changed who He says I am. You are in the midst of many life changes. You will be able to claim empty nester or perhaps there are other titles too. But my desire is that everyone know that God has the final word in our identity and that is where we need to rest.