Toddlers love repetition. I am learning this first hand, especially with movie preferences. If you’d like, you can schedule me to perform a complete one-woman show of Finding Nemo, because I have the ENTIRE thing memorized. The latest craze is Kung Fu Panda 3. I have seen or overheard pieces of this movie an embarrassing number of times. It’s funny the things that God uses to speak to us, isn’t it?
If you haven’t seen it, Po the Panda (voiced by Jack Black) is the legendary Dragon Warrior, and in the quest to save the valley and master chi, he has to figure out who he truly is. In the first scenes, he was pretty confident that he knew his identity. Yet the way that he was thinking of himself and his purpose was so much less than the truth. Check out this clip:
“Do you think that is what the great Master Oogway saw for you? A 500-year-old prophecy fulfilled so you could spend your days “kicking butt,” and running through town high fiving bunnies?”
I’m sorry if I’m losing you here with the Kung Fu Panda references, but bear with me here for a second. Po the Panda’s teacher was incredulous at what he was willing to settle for. Why wouldn’t Po pursue who he was destined to be? Didn’t he understand there was more? Similarly, I am often incredulous at what I’m willing to settle for. Is this what Jesus died for? So I could spend my days zoning out on facebook, or just trying to survive until my twin toddlers go down for a nap, or to somehow survive until they turn four… There is more than this. I am more than this.
As a follower of Jesus, my identity is rooted in Him. I am a new creation in Christ. And it’s a hard work (a continuing work) to stay grounded in the truth of who I am. I am already made righteous by the blood of Jesus. I am not defined by what I do, but am saved by grace. I am not defined by what I do (it’s good to repeat that one). I am simply and truly loved by God.
I was created by God, and He has given me a unique set of gifts. So here’s my definition of the difference between identity and calling: Identity is who we are. Calling is what flows out of who we are created to be. Much of the last season of my life has been God teaching me those things.
When I got laid off from my job as a school counselor in 2013, I realized that much of my identity was rooted in being good at my work. And yet, even if I fail completely in my career, I am still equally as loved, and who I am hasn’t changed. (Isn’t that crazy?) Do a self check-in and complete this sentence: If I fail at __________________, I would be a complete wreck. That could include a clue about where your identity is rooted. It did for me.
Since I became a mother in 2014, I have been wrestling with how to be a mom and…well, anything else. Mothering is such an all-encompassing thing, and it is good. I recognize that parenting toddlers doesn’t last forever, and I have worked to celebrate and enjoy this season in our family.
But to be honest, it is a fight every day to stay present with my girls, to tune in and be the kind of mom I want to be. It is a fight to think of myself the way that God sees me. It is a fight to make time and energy for the ministry that I have outside of my family (even with tons of support from my husband). I think what I’m trying to say here is that I have had to FIGHT to hold on to what I thought I already knew about who I am. I feel like Satan has dispatched a crazy level of assault against my identity. The enemy does not want us to know who we are, because knowing who we are leads so naturally into our calling.
So if it starts with knowing who we are…are you seeing yourself clearly?
I did this exercise at a retreat last fall and it was awesome. Take one minute right now to write down five things about who you are. You have one minute! You’re reading this, you have one minute. Step away from the blog, you’ve got paper there somewhere. Or, use your notes app. Take one minute to write this down – List 5-10 things that are true about who you are. (What defines you? What do you know that you’re called to do?)
Ok, you’re back. Hello again. (Did you do it? No seriously, go do it.)
Afterwards, take two minutes, and bring that list to God. Look at it, read over it, and show it to Him. Pick a chair to pretend that Jesus is actually sitting in and literally show him what you wrote down. Ask Him about it. Does He have anything to add? Does He agree, or disagree? I know that God speaks, He is an active, close God, and we spend way too much time when we pray just talking, talking, talking…and not enough listening. Bring your list to Jesus and just listen.