Thursday, 22 November 2012

Identity issues...

Today, as I sat down with a cup of coffee to think through some of the things I am truly thankful for, one of my sons tore my heart apart...

Next month he has a school trip to a pantomime in our town, and when I asked if he was OK with me offering my help to accompany the class, he said NO. He told me that he'd prefer me to not offer, and that he might be OK if there were other mums there to help too, but he didn't want me to be the only one...
I have four sons, and this was the third one - but this seems to be something that is hitting them all. They think I will embarrass them. They are afraid to stand out and be 'the one whose mum came along'. I have tried to tell them how precious this stage is and how wonderful it is that I am able to come and help out in their classes, but to no avail. They are too worried about their classmates' opinions and mum is not cool. 

It broke my heart to hear my 6 year old copy the words of his big brothers and ask me not to come. I look at myself in the mirror and start asking all sorts of daft questions - Am I too fat? Do I smell bad? Do I do or say things that really embarrass them? Are they embarrassed to be seen with me in my clothes or present state of fatness? (Incidentally when I wrote this the auto-correct turned fatness into fat mess - both equally correct...)

But the truth is that while what he said in his wee innocent voice may have hurt me, it hurt me more because at the moment my identity is found in them and how much I can do for them, instead of being found in God.
'But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.'
John 1:12 NLT
This was a hard lesson to learn - because it was one I hadn't realised I needed. I thought I had the whole identity being in God thing sorted and I am sure of my identity as a daughter of the King, but obviously my priorities have changed without me realising and I have started to focus too much on who I am as a wife and mother. 
I love being able to help out in school - I think I'm a closet teacher!!  I have four boys at the same school for this one year, and I do several things, like helping out at the Scripture Union and with the little ones, but obviously I have to think more carefully about what I volunteer for, and what I say yes to helping at. I don't want to single my boys out for bullies or make them embarrassed by my presence at things, but I want the best for them and I want both to take an active part in their education and to build good relationships with their teachers. It's a tricky balance, but one that is much easier when I rest in the knowledge that I am firstly and fore-mostly a daughter of the King of Kings, and remember that I don't have to try so hard to do things in school to have an identity. 
My boys all love me - of that I am sure - but sometimes when I am feeling overly emotional and relying on them to make me feel better instead of turning to God, they can truly break my heart.
I wrote this today because I am feeling real and raw at the moment, but also because often it can be easy to find our identity in others rather than in our Lord. When we do this, especially when it involves our relationships, with family and with friends, it undermines our self-confidence, makes us feel good only when people are happy with us and complimenting us, and brings us down when people ignore us or are mean or nasty to us. We need to see that having our identity firmly fixed in Him gives us the freedom to be friends, share our lives with people and to experience the highs and lows that go with that, but resting safe in the knowledge that as daughters of the King, God loved me so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for me, giving me a life for all eternity that I can only dream about. And in light of that, anything that is said to me today, especially by my innocent wee 6 year old, is just that - an innocent comment by someone who doesn't even realise he hurt me!
I pray that we all can rest assured in the knowledge and love of our Saviour, knowing that when our identity lies in Him, nothing else matters! 
Keep shining... 

PS - after me writing this and working through my issues, my clever son decided that if I WAS to come with him he might get to have some extra sweets and THAT would be totally ok with him!! :D

1 comment:

  1. How darling was that outcome. Sweets kind of win me over too! " can be easy to find our identity in others rather than in our Lord." Boy do i know how that goes. Even though I have taken strides towards my confidence being IN Him, I know I have far to go!
    I am glad He is so patient with us!