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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who You Used to Be


I used to be a housemom at a children's home in Texas. I used to be a social butterfly. I used to be a cake decorator. I used to homeschool my kids. I used to be blonde.

I used to be short. I used to be a single mother. I used to be divorced. I used to have a cat. I used to be an operations manager for a small airline. I used to be an egg donor.

I used to be the life of the party and I used to be busy, flitting from this activity to that one, laughing with friends all hours of the day until I collapsed, exhausted. 

I used to have dozens of friends. I used to write poetry. I used to drink gin and tonic. I used to work at a church. 

I used to be heartbroken. I used to be lost. I used to be a child.

All these things, I used up. I got over. I moved on. 

I am not these things anymore.

But still, when the day is quiet and I'm feeling purposeless, I'll grab hold of one of these old labels, and though the stick-um is linted and the paper is wrinkled from days of wear, I'll slap that baby back on my chest like a badge, smoothing over it every so often to keep it from falling off. This, after all, is definition.




It gives me something to grasp when the day ticks by and it is consumed by shapeless piles of dirty clothes, bland meals, and other aimless wanderings. But it is a trick and it is a lie. Because if I stay standing in who I used to be, I can never grow into what I'm meant to become.

I had a conversation last night with one of our boys in Texas, a boy struggling with his identity in light of who he used to be… not sure how to present himself to the world when the landscape around him has changed. It's a tricky balance, it turns out, between building upon your truths, letting who you've been be the stepping stones for who you're becoming, and abandoning your past entirely for a new future. Sometimes, we only know ourselves in light of the labels we've had stuck upon us. Sometimes we don't recognize our own faces in the mirror when those labels don't stick anymore.

Becoming is tricky business.

What labels do you wear? What do they say about you? Are those labels true? Are you hiding behind labels that lost their stickiness long ago? Are you letting your past stand in the way of your present, or your present stand in the way of your future?

When you were knit together inside your mother, God made a pronouncement upon you. He made you something. He did not pronounce you an alcoholic or a liar or a screw-up. He did not pronounce you a cheerleader or a missionary or a pastor's wife or a mother. He knew those things might be part of your story, but He made you with a depth that goes beyond your doings and your labels. He made you beloved, beautiful, joyful, full of light or laughter or encouragement or nurturing. He made you someone apart from your circumstances. Without the labels, do you know what you are called? Do you know what your name is?

"…to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off." – Isaiah 56:5


  1. Oh, my friend! How I needed this! I struggle SO much and SO often with who I USED to be. I needed to remember that even now with the labels off is a part of my story and my identity is not lost if I cling back to the basics...remembering I am His.  Thank you, sweet Cara! I really appreciate the truths here!

  2. gives new meaning to having an everlasting name.  thanks.

  3. "Because if I stay standing in who I used to be, I can never grow into what I'm meant to become"
    Thanks for letting God say this through you. Thanks for being His mouth piece.

  4. And BAM! She's back! ;) Seriously, Cara, you words pierce right to the heart. We are all becoming, and its hard for me not to stick to labels, the ones I stick on myself, and especially the ones I assign to those around me. You've given me tons to think about this evening. Thank you.

  5. beautiful. I can see all the "Hi my name is____" labels I have put on myself--almost like a blanket that doesn't really keep you warm. And I love that the name we have is Beloved. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and the sweet words. "A blanket that doesn't keep you warm." Love that, and isn't that the truth? 

  7. We are all becoming. I need to remember that on days when I feel like I'm just running in the same tiny circles. Slow, but sure, becoming. 

    Wish I could be at your coffee house exhibit shin-dig. You have my unending support from across the miles though. :)

  8. Yes, it's hard to personalize that sometimes, isn't it? To think of how what we're called is often different than what we see ourselves as? Thanks for coming by!

  9. I think God lets us attach to who we used to be so strongly because that's how we connect, that's how we minister, and how we build, but like you said, at the basics, when we are stripped bare and it is just us and the Father, what we are is loved and beautiful and enough and, as you said, HIS. I am SO bad at remembering that... 

    I think women in general are, but how much more could we function in his love if we were able to see ourselves that way? Just rambling. Anyway, thanks for your sweet words as always, sister! I never knew what my life was missing until I had you cheerleaders by my side. MAN I have to get out to the East Coast!!!!! :)

  10. I love this...and I love how it incorporates Psalm 139, which happens to be my favorite of all the Psalms.  <3

  11. Beautiful...  Hope you don't mind, but I referenced some lines from this post (linking the quote to your blog) in my own post, "what's in a name..."  this week. Your words added such a beautiful illustration to something the Lord put on my mind too.  :)  Thanks for sharing your heart as always!  Pam - http://wordglow.wordpress.com


Your comments are such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your valuable words.