In my mind I am defined. I list descriptors of myself, words that have been with me my whole life.
Where did I get these words? Why do I see myself as someone who has to fight all the time?
I know I have changed over the years. Most people would not use those words to describe me now, okay they would probably still say I am talkative and have a problem with interupting and being a tad loud. I just get excited about what my friends are sharing and want to join in and share their story with them. But I don't think I am judgmental or stubborn anymore. I think I have softened over the years.
I don't know why it was always such a fight when I was younger. I am sure it has something to do with growing up in a family where both my parents also insisted they were right. I probably did have to demand some attention as a kid when all the energy and family decisions were being made to help my mom get better. When you have been forgotten to be picked up after an activity and have overheard your parents fighting over whose turn it was to have to go to my soccer game, you start to need to make your voice heard. And I realize that asking my cash strapped parents for a class ring when I was in high school was probably unrealistic. I was 17. I was unrealistic. But to call me selfish when I did not ask for much and paid for everything else in my life myself seems harsh. But I took on that label, along with all the others I was given along the way. Demanding. Emotional. Selfish. Lazy.
Somewhere along the way, sometime after leaving home, I was able to put down the boxing gloves and stop fighting. I found that I didn't have to demand that people pay attention to me. I made friends who genuinely seemed to like to be with me. People who enjoyed sharing life with me and who were willing to give and take in the relationship. People who wanted to listen to my pains without having to defend against it. I was able to take care of myself financially once I was in college. I did not have to rely on my parents for tuition or book money. I was no longer tied to their financial decision making. And in being free from my parents physically, emotionally, and financially, I was able to stop fighting.
I didn't have to fight to keep my own identity any longer. I didn't have to fight the quicksand I felt pulling me into who my parents saw me to be. I finally had time and space to actually figure out who I was, not who I was as a reflection of my family.
And it turns out I am not a fighter. I certainly can fight. I can stand my ground when I need but I am very willing to compromise. I can lead, I can make decisions for myself and others, but I also am happy to follow.
I know more about who I am. I have found myself apart from anyone else's definition of me. I have found my place in God's kingdom. I have found my identity as his child, loved and redeemed. I am learning that I can be generous and loving. I can be selfless and self sacrificing. I have found grace and can share that grace with those around me, even those I don't agree with or who have hurt me. I am thankful for life, for the little moments and the big life changing provisions.
It is not just that I have found my identity in Christ. I have also been figuring out more of who I am in this world. What kind of friend, wife, mother and participant I am. I don't have to fight to be heard any more. I don't have to fight to be cared for anymore. I have my own place in this world.
When I moved, many of my friends took some time to tell me what I mean to them. The words they used to describe me and our friendship were not on the list above.
They used words like authentic, honest, sweet, thoughtful, loving, friend.
While I do not want to find my worth or my identity in how other's see me, I do think it is time to let go of those words, those descriptors that are no longer accurate, and replace them with words that do describe who I am now.