I was scrolling through my FaceBook feed the other day, when this little gem of a note popped up. Jaslyn is the daughter of some precious friends of ours and is nine years old. Yes, I said nine years old! What she was able to give words to, most adults would struggle to even vaguely identify, which is why I guess my eyes filled up as I read it.
As I've witnessed time and time again with my own kiddos... we have something to learn from children. Or somethings... like a bazillion somethings. So, let's tune in and listen up because Jaslyn has something to say to us.
Let me back up just a bit, first. I was at a retreat in September on a mountain ranch and some friends asked us to begin thinking about who we really were. They asked us to start to write an identity statement. Uh...riiiight. Just one sec while I go ahead and get nauseaus just thinking about it. Most of us looked at each other with blank stares and then went into panic mode. We adults decided the only mature thing to do was to run for the hills until we realized "Shoot. We are IN the hills!"
What is this marked discomfort we feel about our identities? I have been thinking about it and I feel like we get deeply uncomfortable when confronted with who we really are, because deep down we believe who we are is what we do. And what we do so very often is fail and disappoint and let people down and never measure up and... and...and...the list could go on forever. We never "do" enough, which we translate into meaning WE are never enough. And this core belief that many of us carry through our lives, keeps us from being who we really are. Because who we really are, is loved. Period. It all starts there for us. So when we fail to allow ourselves to recognize that one, oh so important truth, we begin the long, arduous journey of proving, comparing and ultimately destroying ourselves.
But look at Jaslyn - this kid gets what so many of us grown ups do not. Was there even one thing she wrote that had anything to do with what she "did" other than "giving presents, love and gentleness?" This precious nine year old girls knows that who she is is not defined by what she does. Side note here: she "gives gentleness"??!! Are you kidding me? AHHH! The beauty of that one statement alone! And I bet you anything that she is gentle with herself too. When was the last time you were gentle with yourself? When was the last time that you gave yourself some grace? I think at some level, even if she doesn't recognize it, Jaslyn knows that to be gentle with others, she must first be gentle and kind with herself. Yeah. Let's just sit on that one for a month and see how our lives change.
Take a look at the verbs she uses to describe herself. She:
Didn't she nail all the main elements of human nature with just those words?? She began with such poignant, beautiful adjectives to describe herself, then she ventured into what and who she loves. I just find that so remarkable. Before all the rest, she starts with love.
And the first thing she feels? LOVED. O, that "loved" would be our first thought about ourselves!
And what she needs? People.
People help point us towards who we truly are. I bet you anything that without my friends Sean and Kathy (Jaslyn's parents) loving her, encouraging her and constantly affirming her character and gifts, that Jaslyn wouldn't have this understanding of who she is. We need people around us who breathe life and truth and love into us, so that we know who we truly are. (Blog post on this topic forthcoming!)
Back to September... I begrudgingly started writing down who I am. I've only made it through about five sentences so far. The first three are probably the most important. "I am Amy Savage. My name literally means "beloved" and that is what I am. I could stop right there and that would be enough, but because I am beloved, I am also more." I realized as I started to write out who I am, that God will never speak to us about our identity by who we are NOT. He only affirms and calls out who we ARE. Anytime, we hear voices that tell us who we aren't, we need to slap those mothers upside the head and kindly escort them out of the building.
There were a few women there that day in September who stood up on tables and with confident voices, powerfully spoke out their identity statement (some of them had taken years to compose). I'll never forget as long as I live the sacredness of those moments. Women who believed with everything in them that the beautiful things they were speaking about themselves were true and right. They had discovered the beauty of living from the fullness of who they were.
So many times we squelch who we really are in the name of humility. But the most humble, beautiful thing we can do for ourselves and for the world around us is to be who we were created to be.
So, who were you created to be? Ask God to show you. He will. Let's not keep buying the lie that we are what we do - that just keeps us small and bound up. I want to live freely and with great joy and gratefulness for who I am. I want some day soon to stand up on a table unencumbered, and belt out in my loudest voice the beauty of who I am.
Thank you, Jaslyn, for reminding me just how powerful and lovely it is to know who we are and live out of that space. May you be blessed, dear girl, to live fully and with great joy, in the reality of who God has created you to be. You are one incredible girl. Somehow, I don't think you'll forget it. And that is just awesome.