Who I Am, and What I Am Not

“You are what you do.”

If you love your job or if you accomplish many visible and important tasks in a day, finding your identity in your work is so pleasant and satisfying you may not even notice it’s a really bad habit.

If you are a stay at home mom and you believe this, even just a little bit, you will despair.

Think of it this way:  Here’s a sampling of what I do:

Wipe down the kitchen counters.
Sweep crumbs off of the floor.
Put a clean diaper on Abby.
Wash and put away dishes.
Clean fingerprints off of the sliding glass door.
Feed Abby a snack.
Wash dirty towels.
Entertain Abby.

What do these things have in common?  Regardless of how thoughtfully or meticulously or creatively I complete my tasks, they are all undone within 10 minutes.  If who I am is equal to what I have to show for myself at the end of the day, my entire day is spent in a pitched battle against insignificance.

It’s why I overreact when Stephen comes home and sets his coffee cup in the sink or leaves crumbs on the counter after eating a snack.  I AM empty sink!  I AM clean countertops!  And in one minute, I am gone.

The other night I was feeling particularly sorry for myself.  “I feel like an appliance.” I complained to long-suffering Stephen.  “I might as well just be a uterus with dust mop arms, because all I do is have babies and clean the house.”

“I had no idea I was marrying such a feminist,”  Stephen responded wryly, refusing to dignify my vivid metaphor with the desired shocked response.

“Me, neither,” I sniffed, and then ended the conversation by picking up a book off of my nighstand.  It was book about grief, and I honestly don’t remember what the point was (I was only “reading” for theatrical effect, of course).  But I did see this quotation in the middle of the page:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”


Then my parents got their money’s worth from all those years of Christian school, because verses memorized long ago began to surface in my mind:

“Whatever is done for the least of these is done to me.”
“Whoever would find his life must lose it.”
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Thank goodness I am not what I do, because my nametag would read: Complainer.  Time-waster.  Ego-defender.  Sin-excuser.
So what defines me?  Not any of that ugly stuff, thankfully.  Not my clean or dirty counters and floors, thankfully.  I’ve been given a new heart that looks like Christ’s, and that is what defines me, however unworthy, ungrateful, ungraceful I may be.

6 responses to “Who I Am, and What I Am Not

  1. so good..

  2. stab.

  3. Is Stephen crazy!!! Doesn’t he know by now he is just supposed to listen and then give you a comforting hug?!?! He totally deserved the silent treatment of escaping to your book.

  4. You need to write a book! A devotional for young moms. I am serious!!

  5. I wish there was a like button on your 6th paragraph.

  6. Thanks for the reminder.

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