This is a guest post by Alaina Mayes.
Have you ever considered how your identity was shaped? Our identities are who we are at our core. The things that often define us can be connected to our family’s past or achievements, or possibly our own abilities, the things we’ve accomplished or even failed at. It can be difficult to figure out who we are if we are too closely connected to multiple “whats.”
If you’re anything like me, you take pride in your roles. I grew up in the church as a preacher’s kid, I was a cheerleader for most of my life, a sorority girl in college, and after graduation, I soon became a wife. The pride in many of those roles guided me as I loved being a part of something greater than myself. After marriage, we unexpectedly struggled with infertility, experienced failed adoptions, then—by the grace of God—became pregnant with twins, and I finally became a mama. Oh, the pride!
Unfortunately, when my marriage shattered, so did my self-esteem. My self worth and pride in “who I was” left when I did. The fact that I had a set of twin girls less than a year old when we split didn’t help. I went from a proud Christian wife and mama to a humiliated, broken woman who was now a single mama. I was devastated and ashamed. My identity rested and changed with every point in my life. I struggled with interacting with my old circles and the “judgment” of a failed marriage. I mean, the ladies at Target were, in fact, more focused on my bare ring finger than being completely taken by my beautiful baby girls, right? It’s funny how the enemy can cause us to highlight the negatives of our circumstances so that we completely forget who we are and miss what the Lord could possibly be doing in our lives.
I became a single mama in 2015 and I was lost, broken, hurting, and fearful of how life was going to turn out. I desperately needed the Lord and needed him to redefine who Alaina was, redefine my life, and mend my heart. I learned to lean more deeply into the Lord for everything, and a beautiful ripple effect began to happen.
The more I abided in Christ and allowed myself to rest in him, the more I learned how good he is and how much he loves me. As I allowed the Lord to draw me closer to him, he began to do a major work in my heart. My desire to know him more increased. The more time I spent in the word, the more clearly I understood who I was created to be and become—aside from accomplishments, relationship status, job title, the car I drove, where I lived, or anything else.
The picture of unconditional acceptance, grace, and love caused me to see myself the way he does; in spite of my circumstances or what other people may think of me. I absolutely believe that when 2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that, “If we are in Christ, we are new creatures and made new.” Paul is talking about our identities—who we are. Those old labels and attachments rooted in anything besides the work of the Lord will pass away and are no longer the truth—even for a second.
Throughout the Bible, we are given so much evidence of the Lord using wrecked lives for his glory. Christ constantly challenged the root of people’s identities, but also graciously and freely gave newness to those who believed in him. There are stories of men and women who sought out Christ, or were found by him, in their emotionally or physically damaged state. This brokenness caused them to be shunned, isolated, and set apart from the rest of their communities. They were identified by their pasts, by what they could not do, what they looked like, or their sin until the very moment they had an encounter with Christ. These brief moments with Jesus completely changed everything for them, from how they lived out their faith to their mindsets and occupations to how others saw them. Jesus would say, “Now go, your faith has made you whole,” or “Get up. Your sins are forgiven and you are healed.” He made them new again; free from the burdens of their past identities.
From disciples literally being called away from their work in the middle of their shifts to speaking truth into their lives and declaring them sinless in front of thousands, the Lord meeting others in the middle of their issues was life altering! Those who intentionally searched for him found him! Those desperate for an answer, a cure, a hope, and something that would just work found exactly what they were looking for in Christ and he forever changed them.. They had a faith that believed he could do what man said was impossible which allowed them to experience deliverance and restoration. Right then and there.
He spoke new life into the woman at the well, defended and forgave the woman caught in an adulterous act, healed the woman with the issue of blood, and comforted Hagar when she was rejected by Sarah These women likely had no idea what it meant to have an identity rooted in Christ; and honestly, until a few years ago, I didn’t fully understand either. Nor did I know how to “find” my identity until I began looking at Christ. And, mama, please understand that there is no manual or step-by-step instruction booklet on finding your identity. Your work begins and ends with finding Christ and getting to know him.
As single mamas, it is easy to wear that label and deal with the empowering or negative connotations of it. Although we are doing a two person job alone most days of the week, if not all, we always have to remember where our true identity lies. Raising our babies alone is what we do, it is not who we are. Christ was never concerned with job titles and status; he surrounded himself with tax collectors, the sick, prostitutes, and known sinners. He knew who they were and he used their lives for his glory. He came to have a life altering interaction with us that would change what and how we do all things forever.
Our identities must be rooted in Christ, or else we will be thrown for endless loops, questioning life itself when we experience another life change. We are daughters of the King,—unconditionally loved, strengthened with the power of our risen Savior, peaceful because of the one who gives peace, saved by grace, forgiven, more than conquerors, a light in this dark world, givers of hope, a people who are salt who leave things better than we found them, and those sung over by the Lord himself. Out of those truths of who we are, what we do is done differently.
Alaina Mayes is a single mother who resides in Houston, Texas with her set of three and a half year old twin girls, Rhyann and Logan. She is currently a 4th/5th grade teacher at a charter school, while also staying quite busy writing for her blog unashamedgrowth.com, empowering single mothers, serving at her church, and building her health and wellness business. You can follow Alaina over on Instagram (@amayes) or on her blog!