As some of you know, I am the mother of two boys. Two amazing, wonderful, challenging, intelligent, unreasonable, loving, spirited boys! Time and time again I have told them there is a difference between what we do and who we are. (Hear me out on this.) I remind them that they are not a “good” person or a “bad” person…but instead that they make good decisions or bad decisions. The difference is HUGE. I want them to know unequivocally that they are GOOD people, that sometimes make bad decisions.
This separation of what I do and who I am can be a game changer for all of us. If I know with confidence that I am innately a good person, that through the Holy Spirit I am made whole, then I know that good is triumphing over evil in my heart…even if a slip along the way.
But all too often, I allow what I have done to become who I am. Or on the flip side of that, what I have not done to become a defining aspect of who I believe I am.
It is almost a daily practice for me to take an inventory of my life and my character…always striving right!? Although this inventory should include, “What went right?” and, “What did I do well today?”, I struggle to credit myself for my good decisions. To the contrary, I am heavily sorting ideas into two, much different, categories.
Column 1 is filled with: “What I did poorly or wrong that I could have done better.”
Column 2 contains: “What I should’ve done or should’ve accomplished, but didn’t.”
Column 1 Example:
I yelled at my kids. I was frustrated and lost my temper. I raised my voice and made them feel less than while trying to get my point across.
Immediately my thoughts trail off to…I should’ve have kept my cool. I should have shown them respect and used a respectful voice, because that is how I want them to engage with me. Most importantly, I was sarcastic about their behavior when talking to them, and made them feel bad about who they are, not what they did.
Then I ask myself, “Why can’t I act like a grown up and handle my emotions better? Why am I such a bad mother?”
A dangerous path for my thoughts to follow. From a misstep in judgement to labeling myself a failed mother! The distance from one thought to the other is often VERY short. It does not take much for what I have done to define who I am in my mind.
Column 2 Example:
I once had someone say to me, “You have an awful lot of student loans, but you have no degree to show for it.” Yes…hearing that stung, but there was truth to it. I have never completed college. No Associates or Bachelor’s Degree. No certificate from any program or school. Just a stack of regrets and student loans. I attended college for a bit…several actually! But the idea of “showing up” was overshadowed by bad decisions carried out with undesirable company.
Quickly my thoughts transition to, “I should’ve known better. My parents raised me better. I can’t make my dreams come true…I couldn’t even finish college. I am not qualified. I am not good enough.”
The familiar, dangerous path trudged from a different direction but arriving at the same spot. It does not take much for my actions, or lack thereof, to become my identity!
Have you ever found that the advice or direction you are offering a friend or child is exactly the message you, yourself, needed to hear? Me too. And today I needed to be reminded of what I tell my boys all of the time. I am feeling like you needed to be reminded of this too today.
YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, THAT SOMETIMES MAKES BAD DECISIONS.
You are not what you have done, nor are you defined by what you have not accomplished. Let me dig a little deeper into who you are…FOR REAL.
YOU ARE a child of God, made in His image.
As a child of God, YOU ARE love incarnate.
YOU ARE of consequence.
YOU ARE seen.
YOU ARE thought of.
YOU ARE noticed.
YOU ARE considered.
YOU ARE a masterpiece.
YOU ARE intentionally here.
YOU ARE a vessel of the Holy Spirit.
YOU ARE a gift.
YOU ARE a blessing.
YOU ARE wanted.
YOU ARE needed.
YOU ARE essential.
YOU ARE loved. Everlastingly.
Listen…we can all do better. We can do differently. We can improve our behavior. We can make better decisions. We can be of greater positive impact throughout our day.
But today I take a stand against my self-destructive thoughts…and I will remember WHO I AM. Will you remind yourself today…not of what you have done…but of WHO YOU ARE?