How do we understand ourselves when we realize motherhood has changed us? We look past role, achievements, and platitudes to dig deep into our true identity.
‘What do people think of me?’
Our attempt to shape the answer to that question can control our lives. It’s often there in the home furnishings we choose, the table we set & the planter we place on the patio. It can be there in the car we drive, the books we read & the places we choose for vacation. By means of our clothes, our weight, our gym routine & the interior of our home, we are so easily driven by a craving for an acceptable answer to that question.
It can begin before our children are born.
As our baby grows within us, we seek advice & do research on how to be the best possible mother. We note what other moms do & how they do it, setting standards for our mothering techniques along the way. Our goal is to distinguish not only good from bad, but better from best.
Sometimes, though, we wind up not only wanting to be the ideal mom but yearning to be known as that mom.
If we live self-conscious lives, we harm those we love most & mar our witness of Christ. And trying to live out an ideal-mother identity makes us critical toward mothers whose parenting choices differ from ours. We silently (or not so silently) judge rather than come alongside them to encourage their efforts to love their children.
It seems counterintuitive, but joy & genuine love result not from being thought well of but by thinking less of ourselves altogether.
As Christ followers, we can toss ‘What do people think of me?’ out the window. That’s because we’re called to ask a different question: What do people think of Christ?
When we’re driven by a concern for how people perceive him, we can live free from the bondage of what people think of us.
As we begin to grasp this truth more deeply, we’ll enjoy the freedom of self-forgetfulness.
Because our identity is in Christ, we have no reason to fear our weaknesses. After all, those weaknesses are the very place where his strength is most powerfully at work.
As we open our hearts & lives, we become a resource of God’s grace & encouragement to the struggling mothers all around us.
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 achievements, or possibly our own abilities, the things we’ve accomplished or even failed at.
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, & after graduation, I soon became a wife. After marriage, we unexpectedly struggled with infertility, experienced failed adoptions, then—by the grace of God—became pregnant with twins, & I finally became a mama. Oh, the pride!
Unfortunately, when my marriage shattered, so did my self-esteem.
I became a single mama in 2015 & I was lost, broken, hurting & fearful of how life was going to turn out. I desperately needed the Lord & needed him to redefine who I was, my life, & mend my heart.
Christ constantly challenged the root of people’s identities, but also graciously & freely gave newness to those who believed in him. These pictures of unconditional acceptance, grace, & love caused me to see myself the way he does; in spite of my circumstances or what other people may think of me.
2 Cor. 5:17 tells us, ‘If we are in Christ, we are new creatures and made new.’ Paul is talking about our identities—who we are. Those old labels & attachments rooted in anything besides the work of the Lord will pass away.
As single mamas, it is easy to wear that label & deal with the empowering or negative connotations of it. Although we are doing a two person job alone most days of the week, we 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 & status; he surrounded himself with tax collectors, the sick, prostitutes, & known sinners. He knew who they were & he used their lives for his glory. He came to have a life altering interaction with us that would change what & how we do all things forever.
Out of those truths of who we are, what we do is done differently.
"Although we’ve had the same food expectations for all of our kids, their tastes and preferences vary wildly. Not long ago, we jokingly nicknamed our twins, “farm-to-table” and our oldest son, “Mickey” (in reference to his love of the McDonald’s cheeseburger). It was all fun and games … for awhile.
After a couple of weeks it started affecting their behavior and excitement about different foods. Like when our firstborn pushed away his broccoli—not because he simply didn’t like it—but because he was “Mickey.”
This goes to show that what we call ourselves has power.
We don’t think of ourselves neutrally, but instead, we see ourselves through the lens of, 'Mary, the angry mom,' or 'Julie, the messy person,' or 'Kayla, the A-type overachiever.' The more we repeat these and believe these labels, the more we live up to them.
The power of personal identity is one of main reasons why God spends so much of the Bible telling us who we were created to be, who we are apart from him, and who we are in Christ. These foundational truths are the dot from which all the lines of our life flow.
In Genesis, he tells us that we are image bearers, created as males and females, equal in worth but still distinct. As image bearers, we deserve dignity, respect, love, and life.
But in Genesis, we also see that Adam and Eve sin. As sinners, we deserve guilt, condemnation, separation from God, and ultimately death. It feels normal for most of us (especially once we’ve heard and believed the gospel) to be horrified and ashamed about this sinful aspect of our identity.
If God left us like this—image bearers enslaved to sin—the narrative of our lives would be irredeemable.
But he intervenes by sending his son, Jesus, to purchase us at an unimaginably high price so that we could part with our old identity and be raised with him, identified with Christ. Our new identity—in Christ—means that we are redeemed image bearers.
From the basis of our new identity in Christ, we love well, we look out for the interests of others, we forgive, we submit, and we pursue peace.
God tells us who we are in Christ, not because we have arrived today, but because we will arrive when we meet Christ. The more we believe that—remembering our identity in Christ today—the more we can cast off lies and walk in the way we’ll walk for eternity.
So, the next time you hear someone mention your identity in Christ, let it be a reminder that you are a new creation in Christ, which is definitely a label worth remembering."
I never wanted to become a desperate mom.
When my first son was a toddler, I remember a book came out with a mom laid flat on her back on the front cover. She looked exhausted & overwhelmed...desperate. I remember scrolling by it thinking, "I hope I never need a book like that. Motherhood doesn't have to leave you desperate."