Who are you? On the surface, it seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? But think about it for just a moment. Who are you? What are the first things that enter your mind in response to that question? When meeting a new friend or colleague, we tend to spout off a list of roles and titles we answer to. I am a mom, wife, sister, aunt, or friend. In some instances, we answer with a job title. I am a teacher, hairdresser, administrative assistant, or business owner. Sometimes we begin by discussing a current or future project, such as I’m writing a book, joining the church choir, or launching a single mom’s ministry in my community.
When most of us are asked who we are, we respond by stating what we do. As women, we are doers by nature. We are always fixing something or someone. We hold life together, don’t we? I often joke with my husband that if something happens to me, he is going to struggle with knowing what to do next – where to locate the important papers, his socks, or our children!
I recently read an online comic that described the differences between how women and men get ready for bed. A woman determines she is tired at 8:00 pm and begins the journey of putting the children down for bed. This is, of course, after she has cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen, helped with homework, and bathed the children. After thirty minutes of bedtime stories, prayers, and repeated potty visits, the children are tucked in. It is only then that the woman remembers she needs to thaw out meat for dinner tomorrow. While she is in the kitchen, she will start a grocery list for the weekend and jot a few things on a to-do list for tomorrow. Oh, and there is one more load of laundry that needs to be washed, so might as well get that going too. She throws in some detergent and starts the load. On her way to the bedroom, she notices dirty socks on the floor that need to be taken to the laundry and a shirt on the dresser that needs a button sewn on. After handling those tasks, she finally goes into the bedroom, changing for bed; she notices that her fingernails could probably use a quick polish, and her clothes for tomorrow could use a touch from the iron. Finally, at 10:45 pm, she tiredly collapses into bed. The difference with her husband? He determines he is tired at 10:00 pm, and he heads to bed!
Now, of course, this is all in good fun, and many of us are blessed with husbands that help with so much around the house. But the point is, as women, we are wired differently. We see to all the details of the little things that help us (and others around us) function smoothly throughout the day. We are chauffeurs, counselors, dishwashers, consultants, chefs, clothes-washers, and fixer-of-all-boo-boo’s. All of that is fine with a proper perspective. The danger lies in the doing becoming the defining.
Then, he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:29.
I find this verse fascinating. Jesus wanted to know if the disciples fully understood who He is. They were witnessing His miracles and experiencing first-hand His presence. Yet, Jesus knew it was important that the disciples understood, exactly, who He is. The same is true for us. We must fully understand who Jesus is in us and fully understand who we are in Him.
Only one thing is eternal – our relationship with Jesus. Beauty fades. Positions change. Titles come and go. Unfortunately, relationships sometimes fail. Friends and family sometimes pass away. Children grow up. When our marital status (whether single or married) becomes who we are and what we live for, we must refocus. When what our children do and say becomes our everything, we must refocus. When our beauty (whether we see ourselves as such or lacking thereof) defines us, we must refocus. When a ministry platform (such as Sunday school teacher, member of the choir, author of a book, or anything else for that matter) becomes our worth, we must refocus.
When anything – anything at all – becomes the determining factor of who we are, we must desperately seek the Word of God to set our sights on what He says about who we are. The same is true in how we see other believers, as well. We cannot place worth on how many members are in his church or her Sunday School class. We cannot be concerned with the size of bank accounts or job titles. None of those things matter. We work not for salvation—it was given freely. We choose to work because we are saved.
We are daughters of the living God, the King of Kings. We are not defined by what we do – whether good or bad – rather by what Jesus did on the Cross for us. We can never earn more love from our Lord. He loves us infinitely. I have a confession. I am a “striver.” There is just no doubt about it. I like to get an atta-girl affirmation. I like to accomplish goals and write out to-do lists just to mark things off the list. I like five-year plans and twenty-year visions. I am hopeful of one-day hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” from my Heavenly Father. But what I must, must, must understand (and so do you) is that striving for excellence is not about earning a position, title, platform, and certainly not about earning my Heavenly Father’s love. It is not about becoming anything yet knowing I am everything to my Heavenly Father. What defines who we are is simply being. Being a daughter of the Creator of Heaven. Being His beloved. Being chosen to spend eternity with Him.
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.
The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. Maggio is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
*** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.