Hello, My Name Is…
June 25, 2014
Jennifer Hagler Photography
By Buffy York
Written by Laura DiFatta
I am a people-watcher. So, naturally, when I am in a crowd or have a long lay-over at an airport, I’m rarely bored. Put me in a concert setting and I am just as entertained by watching the people around me as I am the music. I also like to connect with people, so if you like to zone out on an airplane, I’m probably not the gal you want to get stuck beside. I don’t force people to talk with me, it’s more like I invite.
I enjoy hearing people’s stories. In many conversations over the years, I have come across some really interesting people in moments like standing in the loooong line back to the shuttle from Jazz Fest, or sitting on the tarmac for a loooong time on an airplane, or in waiting rooms, or grocery store lines… Well, you get the picture. Time and time again, conversations have been interesting, fun, informative and even inspiring and most started with a simple, “Hi! How are you?” On one overseas flight, I talked with a man who told me the story of he and his wife almost aborting their unborn daughter because the timing of the pregnancy was very inconvenient and how in the clinic, she simply said, “I cannot.” And they left. They have a beautiful daughter that they are over-the-moon in love with! I have talked with a middle-aged woman who was in a slug-fest with breast cancer, a young nurse flying to a far-away medical mission to help strangers, a young German grad student who had just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and admitted to struggling to find meaning in life, a father of three college students who gave Ken and me some insightful and useful parenting advice. And on and on.
In my people-watching, I’ve often wondered what makes people tick, what gives them that drive to “get out of bed and seize the day.” In other words, what gives their lives meaning deep down at the soul level? Many of us from young and tender ages bought–maybe even subconsciously– into the message that our identity or significance is found in popularity, in wealth, in beauty, in status, in work, in performance, in being cool, in being accepted and on and on. This usually continues into adulthood. While none of these things are inherently bad, they can be devastating if we base our identity or significance in them, because they are frail foundations. These things can be a part of who were are, but should not define us.
Cool is subjective, athletes sometimes get injured or just don’t make the team, everyone has a bad hair day or a breakout now and then, so looks can’t be counted on… And as I’m realizing all too quickly, if we live long enough, youth will fade. Money and jobs can be lost, good health can change in one moment, people can disappoint, leave or fail you. Rooting identity in anything but immovable Truth can result in catastrophe. But this is Truth: God loves you. No matter what. He shows each of us that most clearly through the ferocious, powerful, sacrificial love of His Son, Jesus who came to save us. You can stake your identity in that Truth and you won’t be disappointed.
Once, as a younger mom, I heard someone on the radio say that if your child’s identity is rooted in anything other than “you are loved” they will at some point be crushed. The speaker said that parents should be intentional about speaking that truth into their children. That really resonated with me I think because I really didn’t understand that as a child and so I had struggled with where my identity was rooted since childhood. I started being very intentional about wanting my boys to know that their performances on playing fields, their academic achievements, their looks, their friend set, etc. do not define them. I want them to know this message: They are loved. No matter what. If they leave our home not knowing that, it won’t be for lack of hearing it.
It is a powerful thing to know you’re loved. No. Matter. What. Better still, we are loved by our Creator God. I didn’t earn what God did for me through His Son Jesus, but I know because I’ve placed my faith in Him, I can’t un-earn it what He did for me. His acceptance, approval and love for me are unconditional. Because I’ve realized and accepted that His love is my identity, I parent with a difference now that looks like the love and grace I’ve been shown. I have even noticed this affecting every other part of my life. Religion hasn’t changed me. Jesus’ love has.
There have been radio battles in my car this year. My older sons want their version of “cool music” playing especially when their friends are in the car. I get it. I remember being their age and wanting to be seen as “cool.” At times, I have relented, but after hearing the absolute trash messages that many songs contain, I usually stick to my guns and play the “it’s my minivan, so it’s my radio station that gets played” card. Well, one particular morning, I had the radio on my favorite station. Just before his buddy got in the car, my son changed it to another station. I changed it back and gave him “the look.” The look can say a lot of things and this morning he got the message, “do not touch that button again.” Right about that time, a song I really like began playing. This is how the chorus goes:
“Hello, my name is ‘Child of the One True King!’
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free!
‘Amazing Grace’ is the song I sing.
Hello, my name is Child of the One True King!”
It’s catchy, it’s upbeat and it speaks words of identity that is life and hope-giving! I was so glad the precious kids in my car that morning heard that message as they headed into their world. And, guess what? That afternoon as they all piled in the mini, the very same song came on and one of the boys said, “Hey, that song has been playing in my head all day long” another quickly said, “Mine, too!!” and all five started singing the chorus to the top of their lungs!! My boy slowly looked over to me. And smiled.
I read the Bible every day. Not out of compulsion or religiosity or to check a box, but in part because I love God, but also, because I need to be reminded of His love, of my identity.
Identity: “the state or fact of being some specific person or thing,” as defined by Webster’s dictionary. Where, in what, or in whom is your identity rooted? If you remember nothing else from this, please remember this: You are loved. No. Matter. What. Jesus wanted you to know that so much that he proved it.
This Truth is a good starting point if you are just beginning your search for God. It is a soft place to land if you are hurting and need reassurance and it is a foundational jumping off place in going deeper in learning about the character of God, your Creator, the One Who made you for a purpose and loved you first and best.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38