Cheerleader. Fun. Engineer. Although seemingly contradictory, these are some of the labels I was known by during my younger years. Each label has positive associations for me — and also negative.
When I found Christ in 2000, I felt like I needed to strip myself of those labels because I was finding my worth through them. I wanted to disassociate myself from my old ways, and live a new life in Christ. And so I began a long journey of stripping away the old.
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Previously, I had always introduced myself by quickly identifying myself as an engineer. I wanted people to know I was smart and capable. In my new life, I decided to withhold that information when meeting new people, and be judged based on my character instead.
I also decided to eliminate the fun, cheerleader part of me. Before, I had been a loud talker, bar-hopper, and a center-of-attention-seeker. I decided to take myself out of that lifestyle. As you might imagine, many positives changes came from that decision. I rediscovered my introverted side that defined my early childhood, and found great healing from spending time alone. I took time to find healthy and long-lasting friends and relationships, which resulted in a marriage, and the new labels of wife and mom.
Becoming a mother held great joy and satisfaction for me. I had waited a longer time than normal to get married and have kids. Because my husband and I were older when we got married, we were concerned about fertility. We adopted a year after our wedding and were blessed to give birth to two more children after that. But becoming a mother so quickly, to three, also slowed down my journey to finding my true soul-satisfying identity. With three high-energy kids, I had little time to ponder, reflect, and discover.
As a stay-at-home mom, I have struggled during the years that seem to be all about serving my family. While I love being a mom, I also struggle with the all-consuming responsibilities of being a mom. With the help of therapy, I have learned that both things can be true, and that can be okay. God has given me a gift in being known as a mom, and yet there is still more to my identity than that.
Now that my third child has started Kindergarten, I’m starting to have more time and space in my days. Consistently, I’m faced with the challenge of slowing down and taking the time I need to do this. I have to take my eyes off of the world and seek His Kingdom first. In practical terms, this means turning off my phone, having a messy house, and keeping our activities to a minimum. I have to confess I fail more often than I succeed.
But when I do slow down, take time to reflect, and give God an opportunity to speak, I find a peace and contentment that is elusive when I don’t. When I’m feeling frustrated, if I can instead respond in thankfulness for all that I do have and is going right, I am humbled by His goodness to me. In doing so, I am finding more about who He made me to be. And I’m learning is that it’s more about the journey than the results.
“What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become.” – Dallas Willard