For most of my life I have identified strongly with achievement – I always did well in school, scored high on tests, pushed myself to succeed in sports. It was an internal motivation and an external one as well. I remember clearly being chastised by my father in elementary school for not receiving perfect grades in Bible Class – after all, the pastor’s kid is supposed to at least receive perfect marks in Bible, right?!?
My parents’ expectations of perfection, or at least as close to perfection as possible, melded in to my own high achieving and highly able personality. Achievement has come naturally to me. I’ve worked hard, but not overly so, to achieve the high grades and to complete the tasks and goals that life has set before me after formal education. I’ve been confident in my ability to follow through, to be seen as a reliable friend and volunteer. I have taken pride in my work and my ability to get things done in a quick, professional manner.
All that has changed in the last few months. More than ever, I feel like a failure at most things. All the things I used to be able to do with ease (or relative ease) – manage my schedule and my kids’ schedules, volunteer for causes I believe in, plan and cook meals, keep up with basic household tasks, be engaged in my worship community, be attentive and patient with my husband and children, etc., etc., etc. are now really hard. I feel lost in this world where I can’t just make things happen anymore. I’m realizing that I don’t know who I am without all these “achievements”. Almost daily for the past weeks and months, I have failed miserably in one arena or another (or multiple in one day! oh joy!) In the midst of every failure, setback, and mommy tantrum, I am trying to remember to call out to God. It isn’t usually eloquent – generally, just a “God!! Help! How in the world did You think I could do all this!?” He has been faithful to whisper back that He loves me and that He’s got me (and that I never could do “all of this” – that’s the whole point).
There’s a song He keeps bringing to mind – the chorus says, “You’re a good, good Father – it’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are, and I’m loved by You. It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” (
These words have meant so much to me over the past few weeks and continue to embed themselves deeper in to my soul. While I may have been a good mom/wife/church member/daughter/community leader, those things never were my identity. That’s never who I was. So, now that I feel like a bad mom/wife/daughter/etc., it’s not who I am either. Good or bad day, good or bad attitudes and outcomes, who I am is only defined by the love of my God. He loves me. That’s it. Jesus loves me is the answer to every frustration I have. He sees me, He gets me, and He loves me.