I used to be a housemom at a children's home in
. 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. Texas
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
, 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. Texas
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