Note: I hope to get new chapters up later today.
By: Staci Stallings
One of the more persistent problems in my life early on was a failure to accurately know who I was. Oh, sure. I knew who my parents were and who my family was. What I didn’t know was how to define myself.
This was not a conscious problem, and I’m not even sure I could have articulated it back then. But when I think about it now, I realize that I was trying to define myself in terms of my performance–what I did.
I was in the FHA. In fact, I was an officer. But that didn’t feel like “enough.” I was also in band and in the regional band. That still didn’t feel like enough. I was in choirs and the youth group. I competed for and won several writing awards. I was in the one-act play drama. I was top of my class. But none of it ever felt like enough.
I see now that a big part of why it never felt like it was enough was because I was trying to define myself by what I did, not who I was. One reason is because I didn’t want anyone to know who I was because I WAS scared, I WAS unsure, I WAS trying but always feeling like I hadn’t quite hit the mark.
The other night our priest said something very interesting that I never knew before. In the story of Bartimaus, the blind man on the side of the road who calls out for Jesus to heal him, we think we know Bartimaus because we’ve heard that story a gazillion times. However, do you know what “Bartimaus” means?
Let me help you out with that one.
“Bar” means son of. Timaus was the man’s father. So Bartimaus literally means “son of Timaus.”
Why is that important? Because this man, this man who was born blind and has been out here begging for who knows how long, doesn’t even have his own name. He doesn’t have his own identity. He is known as the son of Timaus. “Who’s that?” “Oh, that’s just Timaus’s son.”
My daughter was laughing on Friday because when she went into one of her younger sibling’s classes she was “Andrew’s sister.” When she went into her other sibling’s class, she was “Kayla’s sister.” She said, “You know, I have a name!”
I’ve noticed when I go to places with my kids, people refer to me as “Mom.” The doctor does this. The gymnastics coach does too. Even many of the teachers refer to me as “Mom.” As in “Okay, Mom, you can sign this now.”
I guess it’s easier than getting to know your name, and most of the time I don’t even think about it. But it does occur to me now that if everyone did that all the time, you would cease to think of yourself in terms of yourself and start thinking of yourself in terms of who you are to someone else. That’s a little disconcerting.
I watched a movie last night in which a young girl who is very driven and knows who she is and what she wants, falls in love with a prince. The queen asks at one point what makes her think she is fit to be queen. The girl answers, “I’m just Paige Morgan, from Wisconsin.” The queen answers, “No more. You are no longer Paige Morgan. She is dead. You are now the future queen.” The news stuns her deeply.
I think identity, how we view and define ourselves is unbelievably important to how we move and act and be in the world.
The priest that same night explained that our identity must come from who we became at Baptism or we are simply in a swirl, letting the world define us.
For me, I know he’s right. It wasn’t until I began to define who I was in terms of who my Heavenly Father is that my life became more settled, more peaceful, and more powerful.
I no longer felt the hole I had before. I am a child of the God of the Universe. I have a Father in Heaven Who loves me beyond measure no matter what I’ve ever done. I am forgiven. I am free. I am loved.
From that perspective, life is no longer this giant struggle. I can breathe and think and be without frantically trying to find something that will define me as being “good enough.”
That’s who I am. Who are you?