I am single. I am widowed. I am married. I am divorced. I am a mom. I have no children. I am a career woman. I stay at home. I am an artist. I am a cancer survivor. I have a doctorate. I finished high school.
Are these really who we are? Or are they simply part of our journey, a title, or life experience that will demonstrate what we are made of? I, my friend, will passionately argue for the latter.
I was a booking agent for musicians in my 20s when I married my boss. No, it was not one of these torrid affair workplace things. He was single as was I. First I was his girlfriend, then I became his wife.
In the minds of many we worked with, that part of my life made me less of an agent. The fact that we were dating created an argument that my ability was not the reason I had my job. I must simply be a ditzy blonde whose boss thought she was cute (no offense to blondes—our hair color has no relevance to our ability). The assumption was that being in a relationship with my boss made me less capable. Fortunately for those who chose to trust their careers in my hands, I was rather good at what I did, and they got enough work to pay their rent.
There were times when the knowledge that people had the wrong perception of me really bothered me. It hurt, challenged my self-esteem, and just flat out made me angry. I felt as though I had to work harder and be even better than my peers to be successful in the eyes of many. I was being defined by one part of my life, not all of it.
It was then my self-view began to evolve. Each of those—girlfriend, wife, or booking agent—was a part of what defined me in the eyes of many. Through the years, I added concert promoter, mother, homeowner, video producer, chief financial officer, author, and even toilet repairman (because we couldn’t afford a plumber), to my many titles. But none of those were truly what created a definition of the person I was; they were just what I was doing at that moment in time. They were where life circumstances or choices threw me.
I was being defined by one part of my life, not all of it. But what truly defines me?
What defines me is this:
Do I give up when life gets difficult?
Do I ignore those who bring me down, those who would limit me?
Do I build people up, not tear them down?
Do I love well even toward the undeserving?
Do I offer others encouragement, hope, and confidence?
Do I allow every one of my life experiences to add wisdom and create understanding?
Do I rely on my faith to be the truest source of my grit and grace?
In each season of life, these choices have been mine to make. The answer by my actions to each of those questions would create the definition of who I was capable of being. It was on me to demonstrate the grit and grace required to define who I wanted to be. Sometimes I fared well, sometimes not. This is true of us all. Every one of us is created with incredible talents and abilities. We are here to fill a place that no one else can.
Not to just do a job or find a purpose, which is part of it, but to be the one individual who decides to make our own definition of who we are. We are responsible for not letting our circumstances speak to others of our worth, but our actions within those circumstances.
When we succeed in becoming comfortable with who we are even when others question, we are reflecting well the view of the God who created us. His view is that we, created in His image, have the ability to reflect the beauty of who He is in strength, confidence, and compassion, demonstrating the best of His nature. His definition offers us hope… Hope in this life, where He will mine all the undiscovered treasure within us and hope in the life to come, when our definition will be complete.
Through the years I have discovered so much and am discovering still who I am. The unveiling of the magnificence of who we are capable of being is a process that will continue through life. We will be surprised at all we can become. So, do not let a moment in time, a circumstance you find yourself in, or another’s opinion define you. Instead, my friend, quit listening to outside voices; know in your heart that it is you and you alone who will truly determine the real you.
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How Do I Know What Defines Me?