That one question is bound to increase anxiety, no matter who you are. Right?
"We are just going to go around the room and introduce ourselves, tell a little bit about who you are..."
It seems so simple, but, not really. I mean, we know who we are. At least, we know what we do. But is what we do, who we are?
And especially these days.
For previous generations, I'm thinking it was a lot easier to respond to this question.... your mama and your grandmama were washer women, and therefore you grew up a washerwoman. Women reproduced seamstresses, midwives, teachers and nurses by having babies and raising their daughters in their professions.
We are both blessed and confused to live in a country, in an era, where we are not defined by who our mamas were or what they did. We absolutely cannot disassociate from the impact that they have had on our lives, nor should many of us want to. Even if the influences were mostly negative, you are still shaped by the life of the mother who raised you.
I come from generations of fierce mothers, yet also strong women who were active in their public and spiritual callings. My grandmother was ahead of her time as she was respected as a dynamic preacher and Bible teacher for men and women. She raised six children, yet never wavered from the day-to-day encounters of living out her calling.
My mother was called to ministry at an early age and fulfilled her calling as a pastor's wife raising four children. Later on she became an ordained minister and spent the latter half of her career working on staff at a thriving church.
SO many conversations I have with other women about who we are somehow always lead to who our own Mama's were and the influences they have, both positive and negative, on our lives.
God brings us through seasons.
For many years of my life I was the student. I observed from the sidelines as my strong female influencers danced their roles on platforms in front of me. I took years of mental notes deciphering what I was drawn to and also what I wanted to steer clear from as I grew into my own convictions and methods.
For the next several years I was attached to my home. Those were very good, enriching years. I would not trade them for the world. I was able to stay home and to nurse my babes. I was there for all of their baby firsts and toddler lasts. I know what a great privilege that was and I will always look back on the attachment years with a deep sigh knowing that those chubby babies will never be worn in a sling over my hips again.
This fall I am stepping into a new season. My babies are no longer crawling around my knees. Instead, I drop them off at school with combed hair and packed lunches covered in prayers for safe and productive days.
I am no longer commanding a "little bitty" every hour.
Although my influence on my kiddos will never relent, the amount of time I have with them has drastically shifted leading me into a new process of wondering just what season God is beckoning me into.
Knowing this time was coming and my tendency to overfill my plate, I have spent hours praying that God would keep me from jumping into every opportunity that came my way. I have thought long and hard about the women who have gone before me in my family, and why God arranged it so that I, too, would be cut from the same material.
How Do I Begin to Answer?
So, how do you answer the question: who are you? Do you just rattle off how you spend your days? Or do you really know who you are even if all of the busy and chaos ceased to exist?
Allow the following questions to remind you of the feminine cloth from which you have been weaved...
Who was your grandmother?
How did she live by her convictions in good ways and bad?
What about your mom?
Did she raise you with a positive view of work and spirituality?
How were you taught to mix those two very important things?
Maybe you don't know much about either of those two ladies, but you had other women come alongside and help mold you into the woman that you are today. Maybe an aunt, or a close family friend. The real question we are trying to answer is:
What do you do differently because someone modeled something for you, and good or bad, it was the foundation for who you now are?
Who you used to be or where you came from does not have to define who you are becoming.
A few more thoughts:
What are you passionate about?
What inspires you to work even if you never got paid a penny for whatever it is?
What do I do with all these thoughts?
We are all so uniquely created that we cannot compare ourselves to any other. Yet, it is so very appropriate and wise to look to women who have done what you aspire to do. Watch how they live their life.
Allow the lives of spiritual mentors to speak into yours to help you establish the woman that God is creating you to be.
Know Who You Are Regardless of All the Things
And don't worry if you cannot define yourself just so. God says that there is only one title that really matters for eternity.
And I will be a Father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:18
Daughter of the Almighty.
If you believe that Christ is your Creator, and that He is ultimately the One who leads you into your calling, then having a title such as Mom, Wife, Teacher, Author, etc. is all "here today gone tomorrow."
Eternal identities do not rely on seasons.
Just because my mother and my grandmother were both teachers and mentors doesn't mean that I must be a teacher and mentor. But guess what? I cannot escape my heritage. And alas, I find myself teaching and mentoring. And that's ok! Because when all else fails, I still know that God has a purpose for my life. And as much as I would like to define it all in its entirety right now, He gently reminds me that I can only handle so much at a time.
So be the best you that you can be today. Please don't get hung up on titles or stories, or anything else that may cause you to feel unworthy. And dance about it! Or maybe sit back and watch another dance for a bit. Either way...you are who you are, and that's perfect.