I believe that all of life begins with who we are. We have to answer this question. As I have mentored women and worked with students, it always comes down to this basic question first. When the question of “Who am I?” isn’t settled, we find ourselves trying to prove our worth or value.
When we introduce ourselves to someone, we start with who we are. I’m a mother. A wife. A teacher. I’m a chef. A lawyer. A cheerleader. An artist.
Most of us find our identity in what we are able to accomplish. So when we’re able to accomplish something that society deems worthy of recognition, we feel like we matter. On the flip side, when we aren’t able to accomplish something worthy of recognition, we find ourselves feeling like a failure. Our lives don’t seem to matter.
And what happens when the wife, becomes divorced, or the chef is unable to cook or the cheerleader isn’t young and beautiful anymore? We begin our search again. We must discover ourselves again. “Who am I? I’m not a wife anymore.”
When we are stripped of everything, all accomplishments, roles, natural abilities, and work–what’s left? Who are we then?
We are more than our jobs, and our roles. We are more than what we are able to accomplish.
We even define ourselves by our experiences. We can allow the things people have done to us shape our identity. Because we’ve been abused, or left alone, we define ourselves as victims. We can let something someone said about us define us for our entire life, especially when a parent or someone else we trust says it. I’ve heard so many stories of women struggling with defining themselves as whores, or dumb or lazy or useless because a parent or teacher spoke these words to them. (Moms, our words can become self-fulfilling prophesies, so speak life into your children.)
We are more than the things people have done to us. We are more than the things people have said about us. We are more than our mistakes.
Well, I believed that there was a God because I was told it by my grandmother and later by other adults. But when I found that I knew not only that there was God but that I was a child of God, when I understood that, when I comprehended that, more than that, when I internalized that, ingested that, I became courageous. I dared to do anything that was a good thing. I dared to do things as distant from what seemed to be in my future…..When I was asked to do something good, I often say yes, I’ll try, yes, I’ll do my best. And part of that is believing, if God loves me, if God made everything from leaves to seals and oak trees, then what is it I can’t do? – Dr. Maya Angelo
So, who are we?
When you held your child in your arms for the first time completely naked and vulnerable, you loved him or her. Your little baby was precious. He or she hadn’t done anything to deserve your love. He hadn’t painted any pictures, thrown any balls, read any books, worked any math problems, hugged your neck, or done anything – except exist. Your child didn’t even return the love you gave. And yet… you loved deeply that precious child simply because he or she was yours.
Every person is precious and valuable from the moment of conception (actually even before that) because he or she has been created in the image of our Creator. Our Creator gave each of us our value and worth. It’s not something we work to earn. It’s not something we work to maintain. Humans are valuable. Poor humans. Rich humans. Famous humans. Unknown humans. Noble humans. Wicked humans. There is something special about people that is very different from the rest of all creation. Our ability to create, to love, and to think is like no other species.
Our Creator has special plans for us! Because we are special creations of the Creator, we are significant. We don’t earn our significance. We are born loved, and precious to our Creator. Before we ever do anything! But what’s even more exciting is that we cannot lose our value or worth—no matter what we do. His love for us cannot and will not be diminished one iota. Not one! That’s so exciting to me and that’s why I have spent my life seeking to know our Creator. It’s also the reason I see every person as special and valuable.
You are significant. You’re valuable. You’re a gift from God to this world. Knowing and experiencing this truth to the very core of our being, sets us free to serve others in the way they need to be served. We are able to give generously, because we are full, instead of trying to be filled. We love because we have been loved. We do not strive to prove our significance, we rest because we are significant. Because we know we are children of God, we can live courageously.
These are truths that must be passed on to our children. If we are forced to choose only ONE THING to get right with our children, let it be this one: They need to know that they are loved and valued unconditionally. They need to know that their acceptance isn’t tied to their accomplishments. They need to know that they are allowed to fail and they will not lose our love and acceptance. But even greater than that, their failures don’t change God’s mind about who He said they are.
They are His Treasure. Nothing can change that.
God, not living within the confines of time, sees each of us as we really are. Even when our current circumstances don’t seem to confirm what He says about us. God sees you as you really are: free, whole, joyful, loving, kind, compassionate, powerful, fully living out your life’s purpose.
You are a child of God.
You are royalty.
You are God’s treasure.