What Defines You?

Who Are You? What Defines You?

A couple of decades ago I could hold a toddler on my hip while I dragged wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, kept an eye on dinner, and supervised a son’s homework all at the same time. Multi-tasking was daily life.

Now, I’m smug if I make it out the door with my purse and don’t forget the grocery list. Of course, I’ve probably forgotten my grocery bags or coupons that took an hour to compile, but at least I’ll know what to put in the cart.

When you notice you can’t do as many chores at one time or even do the same chores one-at-a time that you did when you were younger, it’s easy to become frustrated with yourself and feel less useful. I don’t know about you, but when I do not produce, I feel like a slug. I fight an imp pulling on my ear and telling me I’m worthless.

When a rheumatoid arthritis flare gripped me for three years, I was backed into a corner, because I couldn’t do the simplest chores. I was forced to admit my limitations, forced to depend on other people, and forced to slow down.

I had to ask my husband and kids to help me with basic tasks like dressing and lifting dishes off of shelves, and when my health improved, I learned to say no to easy and worthy opportunities for service like Vacation Bible School, because I knew that adding too many activities would bring on another flare.

One stormy day I called a friend to cancel a play date for our sons, because my wrists and feet were too painful to drive. I used the rain as an excuse. My pride is as big as Texas, so needing people, asking for help, and admitting my weakness to others not just humbled me, but humiliated me. I listened to that imp on my shoulder and felt worthless.

As I sat on the couch, unable to get up, unable to hold a book or pen or accomplish anything, another voice spoke in my ear.

I love you. You don’t have to strikethrough a list of achievements to have value.

You know what you’re worth to me rusted into place on the couch? I would give my life for you.

I did give my life for you. That’s how much your worth.

Deep breath.

I still stink at this, at this idea that my worth is not tied to how useful I am. My heavenly bridegroom has to remind me over and over through my loved ones and scripture that I am valuable as-is.

Two years ago, I was inwardly hanging my head when the youth director, Samuel, walked on stage and took the microphone to make his fast-talked youth announcements. My kids are grown and gone, so I wasn’t paying attention. Samuel astonished me when he launched into a mini-sermon.

You are not defined by what you’ve done. Let the cross define you.

I am not defined by what I’ve done.

I am not defined by what I’ve done.

I am not defined by my high school years, extracurricular activities, college years, grades, 35 years of marriage, mothering three sons, teaching, or librarian title.

I am not defined by the sharp words I’ve spoken, the neglect left in my wake, the regrets of words left unsaid, words hurtfully said, questions not asked.

I’m not defined by what I’ve accomplished, those fading dull things quickly forgotten by others and slowly but just as surely evaporated in my own mind as well.

“Let the cross define you.”

Let the cross define me.

The cross defines me as worthwhile, valuable, significant, because God let His life ebb away for me. Yes, He died for the sins of the world, but He also died for me, singular, me.

The front cover of the morning’s bulletin read, “Who Am I?”

Who am I? How do I define myself?

I am Suzanne D Marshall, a person worth God’s notice, worth of His very life. He made a nobody into somebody.

We are all important.

Who are you? How do you define yourself?

5 thoughts on “What Defines You?”

  1. Powerful truth, Suzy! Truth I need to speak to myself sometimes hourly – thanks for this hour’s reminder! I remember the days/years of screaming “Doesn’t anyone love me for who I am and not for what I can do for them?” Thankfully that beautiful small still voice of the One person whose love I should cherish the most – said “I do”. Yet I confess my unbelief must be confronted on a steady, daily basis for the pressures to perform, to evaluate and to seek affirmation are deadly idols. It can be so subtle that it can even poison genuine acts of love to others or myself. Freely we have been loved, freely we are to love. Thanks to the power of God and His Truth – we choose today to not listen that the lie!

      1. Just thinking out loud – Do you wonder if God is asking – doesn’t anyone love Me for who I am and not what I can do for them? Forgive us Lord!

      2. In answer to your question – if probably has a lot to do with how conditionally we love one another. No matter how well parents might parents, it still can be interpreted as conditional.

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