by Jenny Harrison
“The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you.”
When my son was young and I picked him up or dropped him off at school, his classmates would greet me with huge smiles on their faces and say, “Hi Daniels’ Mom!” To them, this was my sole identity. I wore this role description as badge of honor. But who am I, really? What is my purpose?
I am not alone in my inquiries. For years, psychologists and philosophers have attempted to tackle these common and age-old questions. Best sellers have been written on the subject. In fact, Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, has been translated into fifty-six languages and has sold thirty million copies as of March 2007…proof we are not alone in our quest to find our niche in life.
For me personally, the answer to this question has evolved through the years. Some unwritten but expected roles have been passed from one generation to the next. Some of them have been healthy and some have not.
If someone asked you to summarize what defines you as a person, how would you answer? Many of us tend to define ourselves by our duties and professions or by personal strengths, weaknesses, and character traits.
Over the years I have been labeled as Dale’s wife, mother, sister, daughter, niece, Aunt Jenny, sister-in-law, friend, Sunday school teacher, cub scout den mother, the speech pathologist, the counselor, student, college instructor, school board member, along with various other titles.
I have been described as tenacious (like trying to get a towel out of the jaws of a pit bull tenacious), loyal, giving, stubborn, overly excitable, visionary, and a deep thinker.
We can aspire to have many experiences, and it is easy to get caught up in labels and titles. While some of the roles I have obtained can certainly be considered admirable and honorable, they will not fill my heart with peace if I choose to allow them to be the sole definition of me.
In Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, he writes the following two statements:
Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same thing; You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the worlds standard and still miss your purpose in this life.
The only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.
As I read the Word, I am reminded of my true identity and purpose as described by my Lord and Savior.
I am an extension of my Father:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NIV)
I am God’s child:
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12 (NIV)
I am chosen:
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NIV)
I was created to serve others:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
Precious Heavenly Father, I pray when the world asks me who I am and what I stand for, I am not shallow in my response. I plead with you to guard my attitudes and actions. I realize that all gifts I possess come from you. I am first and foremost a chosen child of God, an extension of you, created to serve mankind. I pray forgiveness when I choose to ignore your truths, for I know precious Savior that my true identity lies within you.
Copyright © 2012, Jenny Harrison, All rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Bible scripture taken from New International Version.
Quote from Carl Jung, Psychologist (1875 -1961).
Excerpts from The Purpose Driven Life. Rick Warren.