***originally written for Something Beautiful Ministries***
Have you ever known anyone – maybe yourself – who identified themselves by something… inappropriate?A few examples may be… that girl who defines herself by having a boyfriend… or that lady who is just not herself if she doesn’t wear heels… or that mom whose life literally revolves around everything related to her children… and on and on and on (and yes – those are real women I’m talking about). Women everywhere define themselves by things.
Maybe sometimes these things are silly, like the shoes for example. Maybe it seems superficially and like it’s not a big deal to most people whether or not she’s in heels. But to her – it’s important. It’s a really REALLY big deal.
Maybe sometimes it does seem like kind of a big deal. Like the woman who is pretty much defined solely by her role as a mother. Because every mom wants to be a good mom, right? We want to love our babies and raise them well and take good care of them. Who’s to say she’s wrong in that pursuit?
Just over a year ago, on the note of motherhood, my darling daughter was herself preparing to go back to school. She was not yet five and this was to be her last year of pre-school. With the start of a new school year comes a back-to-school haircut.
From the day she was born, my little girl has had a head full of thick hair with beautiful highlights. No joke! We were astonished at the color when she was a baby. But it grew out quickly and curled adorably, and by the age of almost five, her hair was clean down to the small of her back. (This picture is a year older than the story, but you get the idea!)
And while it was wild and curly – it was gorgeous. Everybody bragged on it (unless you were at any point responsible for brushing it, which she hated, so that experience was nothing to brag about). And honestly, it sort of embodied who she was. It was unruly sometimes, and a little crazy, but it was beautiful and sweet, warm and lovely – just like her.
And we learned just how iconic her hair was because the day before she started school, the day that she was getting her annual back-to-school hair cut, my daughter decided to cut 7 inches of hair off… and everyone was shocked.
Most people in our family and friends were very supportive, if not excited. Her dad, for example, commended her and told her how proud he was that she made such a big girl decision (she claims it was because he is happy to not hear her whining every time it gets brushed now, though). And truthfully, she did look just as beautiful – different, but definitely beautiful.
Others though, literally gasped in disbelief when they saw the pictures. A few asked how I could let her make such a big decision.
And in all this chaos and fun, I came to realize that a lot of us defined my daughter by something of this world. We projected that identity onto her ourselves. Her hair was a symbol of her and who she was from day one of her life. WE had identified her by something worldly… and sort of silly.
And I’m still SO humbled by this (and therefore writing about this) because SHE knew something we didn’t.
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. [1 Corinthians 1:27].
She was asked more than once why she cut it off, and sweetly, through the little gap in her teeth, she would say, “It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.” It is a thing of this world and she literally had no concern for it or how it affected her identity. To her simple-loving heart, it was just hair.
To her, her hair wasn’t who she was; it was just something she had.
Everything in this life is temporary. Like her hair, that she could easily grow back over time, there will be things in this world that we will have, and some things that we will lose.
I love when Job, who had lost literally everything he had in the world – his wealth, his family, his health – praised the Lord saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” [Job 1:21]. He knew ahead of time what Paul would later write: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” [2 Corinthians 4:18].
A season of singleness may fall upon the girl who defines herself by the commitment of a man. Where will her identity be found then?
A day will come that the lady who is obsessed with her high heel shoes will no longer be able to wear them, whether it be old age or otherwise. Where will she find her security then?
A time will come when the mother who lives her life only for her children must kiss her children goodbye and hand them off to their own lives. What will fill her heart then?
One day we will all pass from this life and into the next, leaving everything behind. What of any of these things will we be able to take with us?
The only answer is Jesus.
Why? He’s already on the other side.
”When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” [Mark 16:19].
And the stuff you’re leaving behind will mean nothing once you’ve passed on because He is preparing a place for you, in His very presence, and nothing – I mean NOTHING – will be greater than what He has in store for you there. It’s so great, nothing here on earth even comes close to comparison. We can’t even conceive it.
”When everything is ready (also translated as: And if I go and prepare a place for you) I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” [John 14:3].
”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Corinthians 2:9].
I am convicted, humbled, and overjoyed all at the same time, ladies! There are definitely things in my life I know I struggle with sometimes because it’s so important to me, but nothing could ever be more important, more glorious, or more worthy than the Lord Himself and the fact that I belong to Him – and that’s what I want to be defined by.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” [Philippians 3:8].
I encourage you today to seek God and pray, ask Him to show you what things in your life you might be allowing to define you…