Ohhh the ol’ identity crisis continues.
Okay, not really a crisis. We can all relax a little bit.
So, as much as it kills me to do this, I need to share a little excerpt from Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to do this but COME AT ME, JEN. We can just call it even for the time you put my Facebook jokes in your latest book and didn’t so much as send me a free copy. I mean, I’m still mad about it on principle, but it’s also provided endless fodder for plagiarism jokes amongst friends so whatever. Just know that I have your publicist’s number (literally) and I’m not afraid to call it if I see another promotional graphic floating around out there with my words on them acting like you said them. Sidebar: who knew plagiarism jokes could be their own little comedy niche? Plus, if Facebook comments are fair game to use as you wish, I’m claiming fair game on sneak peeks of essays in my e-mail inbox from 2014. Except I have already mentioned your name and the book these words came from WHICH IS HOW IT’S DONE. (I’m not bitter.)
Ahem. Jennifer writes about all the weird things that happen when you turn 40 like saggy hand skin and slow metabolism and all that jazz, but then writes “You get a decent handle on who you are, what you are good at, what you love, what you value, and how you want to live….if you worry endlessly about purpose and trajectory, identity and worth, forty brings security you can’t imagine.”
Well guess what, people. I bring you good news of great joy. I don’t think you have to wait for something magical and mysterious to happen when you turn forty to all of a sudden be secure in who you are. As if our identity rests in some arbitrary age bracket we just have to reach, puhlease. Frankly, the idea of me waiting another decade for that to happen sounds like a load of crap. And I don’t think you need to wait either. I’m probably least likely to be voted Fairy Godmother of the World, but if there’s one thing I could do, I wish I could just wave a wand and bippity boppity the crap out of your insecurities. Like whyyyyyyy is this a thing that seems to plague so many women!?
Listen, even when you are the same you that you’ve always been, there will always be people for whom: your house is too messy, your house is too clean, you are too serious, you are not serious enough, you over-spiritualize everything, you’re not spiritual enough, you’re too loud, you’re too quiet, you’re too bossy, you’re too much of a people-pleaser, you’re too strict, you’re too lenient…on and on and on and oh my gosh it’s exhausting. So one thing you can do before you turn 40 is to just stop listening to that pile of garbage voices.
If you are finding yourself getting caught up in the business of trying to change yourself because you are too much or not enough according to *people*, you are putting your identity in the wrong thing. Don’t sell yourself short and value yourself according to what other people think you should be. You could be the perfect human being and you will never be as valuable to humanity as you are to God. (Example: Jesus.) And if you want to talk about other people’s expectations- there were a whoooole lot of human expectations placed on the Messiah that he didn’t quite meet (some people expected a powerful political leader and He came as a baby born in a cave so there’s that). Jesus’s response to this? “Hi I came to do my Father’s will and if you have a problem with that you’ll have to take it up with him.”
Spend some time looking at what God says about you. You’re made in His image, He knew you before you were formed in the womb, He accepts you, you’re His child, and He’s given you unique gifts. I don’t expect everyone else to be as passionate about certain things as I am and I’m definitely not gifted in areas where others are killin’ it, but if you know who you are in Christ and someone doesn’t approve of your giftings just because they are different from theirs? Good day, Felicia. Felicia probably needs an identity check too, because when you know who God created you to be, there’s not a whole lot of room left for judgment and comparison. Don’t let anybody make you feel like your differences mean you are less than.
Now the catch here is that when our identity’s in the right place, we’re using our gifts to bring glory to God. The fact that God gave you leadership skills doesn’t mean you get to be a dictator. If God gave you the gift of teaching, you don’t get to be a know-it-all. And while we’re here, not all the voices coming at you are gonna be wrong or bad; we’re meant to be in relationship with people and God uses them to speak truth to us. There’s a difference between these people, the haters-gonna-hate set, and the Instagram feed that makes you feel terrible at life. So how you do you know which voice is which?
I used to have a problem with saying yes to eeeeeverything. This was fine before I was married and started having a million kids. Once I had a family, doing all the things I did before was first of all, just not possible, and also sucked a lot of joy out of serving. So I said no. No I can’t teach Sunday school right now, no I can’t be on the leadership team for a mom’s group anymore, no I’m not going to activity XYZ. It was a nice cleansing of the palette, if you will. It allowed me to breathe, to rest, and to figure out what my gifts were and where they could be used most effectively.
If you’re not sure exactly where you’re putting your identity or who to listen to or how to figure this out, I suggest the same strategy. Just say no to all the outside voices and start with God. What else does He say about you? Drown out the rest for a minute and learn what His voice sounds like. Stop reading articles and blogs like this and Facebook discussions and start reading your Bible. You DON’T have to wait until you’re 40. 😉