I could hardly wait for Tuesday morning. I was a mother with four young children, and my church had a monthly woman’s meeting. It was always a perfect day. We usually met at my best friend Ruthie’s house and the children had lots of friends and a large farmyard where they could run and play. Ruthie lived in a large farmhouse, and the living room was furnished with unstained modern furniture, the end tables had flower arrangements and the flame from scented candles cast a glow and fragrance that was warm and inviting. The room was decorated in a way that even Martha Stewart would have taken notes.
The ladies sat on the sofas and chairs, and for the benefit of any newcomers, we introduced ourselves.
“Hi, I’m Betsy, and I have three children, and this is Amy”, she said introducing the four-month-old she was bouncing on her knee.
“Hi, I’m Linda and I’ve been married for three years, and we are expecting our first in November,” she said gently stroking her growing mid-rift.
“Hi my name is Carol, and we just bought a home on Locust Street and we have three children.”
I noticed everyone’s identity was in their husband, children, or home where “family” happened.
My turn came – “Hi, I’m the happy wife of Donnie Rice, and very proud to be Caleb, Angela, Michael and Jesse’s mommy – my most recent name is “Caleb’s Mommy.” It brought a giggle – but it was true. I didn’t really have my own identity – my husband and my family was my identity and I was fine with that. I was very happy to be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, all of us were stay-at-home moms.
The women sat around and discussed their struggles, shared scriptures, and said profound spiritual things about how their 13-month-old baby is now 100% potty trained, how they managed to get through a “strong-willed child” moment at the grocery store, or successfully got their husband to help put the kids to bed. The older women shared their wisdom on how to create the perfect atmosphere to welcome our hard-working husband home after a long day at work. Our children ran and played outside, occasionally interrupting with an “I’m telling! MOM DANIEL SAID . . .” (it was always Daniel or Jared) and the mom wisely dealt with the situation, and we went on with our discussion.
All this was followed by a pot-luck meal. I was committed to bringing the best dish possible – it was the only thing that made me stand out. I’m a farmer’s daughter from the Montana prairie (not even from the mountains) that married a fellow from back east, and these were the wives of more refined “back east” people. To say I felt a bit awkward might be an understatement – these women all had it together – perfect in every way; manicured nails, no real financial struggles, well-behaved children (except Daniel who was highly influenced by my son Caleb), never any indication that there were ever any conflicts in their households, so I quietly enjoyed the chatter hoping nobody would know I bounced a check last week, my husband and I had a spat, and there were still dirty dishes in the sink. Okay – I might be minimalizing it – three loads of laundry in my car were ready to go to the laundromat after the meeting because my washer just died, all four children shared a room because we lived in a two-bedroom rental, there wasn’t enough closet space and I had a real struggle keeping anything organized.
One day I was at the grocery store. You know that moment when you meet a total stranger, and he just happens to catch you at your finest hour? (I know, I can’t believe it happened to me either). My kids were behaving. I was trying to find the best way to stretch the last $15.00 I had in my purse, and the stranger said, “I apologize, but I couldn’t help but notice your well-behaved children. You have a beautiful family, and I would like you to get them something you normally can’t get them.” He slipped a $20.00 bill into my hand. “I know how hard it is to raise a family in this day and age. God wants you to know you are special.” I thanked him and expressed how much his kindness meant to me. It was a “pay it forward” moment before “pay it forward” was a thing.
Who are you? Who am I? The Bible is clear – and if we really embrace all that He says – we would never compare ourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says “Certainly, when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they show how foolish they are.” God sees us and loves us and has given his promises to us, but when we compare ourselves to others, we self-destruct through self-talk.
This is what God says about me. I am a child of God, (1 Pet. 2:9), I have no lack because God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory, (Phil 4:19) He valued me in that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me! (Rom. 5:8) I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23), I am a joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17) I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Rev. 12:11) I am a new creature in Christ, (1 Cor. 5:17) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13) I am wise for I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17-18) I have the power of the Holy Spirit to minister healing and life to others. Nothing shall by any means harm me because I have power over the power of the enemy, (Mark 16:17-18). The declaration of God’s love goes on and on – Joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), Overcomer (Rev 12:11) I’m the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deut. 28:13). I am forgiven (Eph. 1:7) It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).
It was God’s original plan for our identity to be in Him. When sin came into the world, we lost our identity and gained the world’s identity. We are wife, we are mom, we are carpenter, we are farmer, we are doctor.
Brad Paisley sings a song: ”To the waiter at the restaurant you’re just another tip, to the guy at the ice cream shop you’re just another dip, to the world you’re just another girl, but to me, you are the world. . . . You think you are one of millions, but you are one in a million to me.”
I am not just another dip – I’m not the tail, I’m the head! I am the child of the king. I am his sheep and I know His voice. I am blessed. I am righteous.
And all those ladies that were so profound? They had their struggles too. They thought my life was charmed. (I had grown up on a ranch in Montana!!) My pot-luck dish identified me as a great cook – but that’s not who I am. God created my family, my husband, and my children, so I could comprehend the family of God, and understand the Love of the Father. Ruthie was growing in wisdom for a ministry He was preparing for her and her husband. God was preparing Betsy for a difficult time He would carry her through. Linda was maturing in authority to help her family when they would stray – We were all finding ourselves – we were all encouraging each other, and ultimately I was discovering that to Christ, I am one in a million. “He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood!”
The man at the grocery store? He was an angel sent from God just to give me a boost, an obedient servant of God letting his light shine – to remind me of God’s love.
I wasn’t a perfect Mom – that’s why my kids turned out so great! It’s now my children’s turn to recognize who they are in their family, in their job, with their friends, in their community -so they can ultimately find their true identity in Jesus Christ. And I get to be the older woman who teaches the younger to love their husbands and family, making their home a beacon for a lost and dying world and realize, that is the highest calling.
That is who I am.