That sounds like a simple enough question, but it is really a lot like an iceberg … small and simple on the surface, with a whole lot more just under the surface. How we see ourselves determines how we handle stress, failure, opportunities … even successes.
For years I answered the question with such things as … the oldest of 12 children … Catholic … only a girl. This is what I was born into … I had no choice on these.
Later, I added what I did … wife, mother, bookkeeper, computer person … to my answer. These were what I did. I worked hard at being good at these jobs.
None of these were really who I was… or am.
You may be asking, “Why is this important?”
What we do … how we act / react … how we think … how we treat others … All of this is affected by who we believe we are.
- I am “only a girl.” How can I try out for that job? How can I tackle that problem? I can’t lead well because I don’t think like a man. Do I have authority as a woman … without being a b%#@ ?
- I am a widow and all my children are grown. I am no longer a wife … and my children don’t need me anymore. Do I still have value? What do I live for now? Who am I now?
- I am retired … no longer bringing in money … no longer involved in the world … too old to make a difference . Am I just marking time until I fade away … die?
Who we believe we are influences how we interact with people … and how we interact with God. I believe this really shows up in how we pray.
Imagine for a moment that your child … your much-loved child … or grandchild … crawls up into your lap. Your heart overflows for that little one. Then your child starts to speak. “Daddy … or Mommy … I’m so sorry I spilt the milk last week. Please forgive me for falling off my bike and needing a bandage. And please, can I have a new pencil for school? I promise I won’t write anything except my homework. I won’t draw any pictures just for fun. Please?”
Wouldn’t your heart just break! You love that child more than life itself, and she is so focused on her mistakes and faults and needs that she can’t even receive your love.
Don’t we do that with God? We come to Him in prayer focused on our sins and needs … and never realize His abounding, lavish, immeasurable love … that endures forever. I have heard ad nauseum “Oh, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.” That is only partly true. It would be more accurate to say “I was a sinner, but I’ve been saved by grace.”
Our “sinner-self” was crucified with Christ … we are a new creation! Yes, we still sin … we still miss the mark … a lot. But we were already forgiven at the cross. Jesus now lives in us through Holy Spirit, and His grace is working in us. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT We no longer go to God as a sinner, but as a son or daughter. Hebrews 4:16 NLT tells us that we can “… come boldly (not cowering in fear, not in shame) to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
God wants relationship with us … and not just as Almighty God relating to His creature. Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father.” He didn’t tell us to pray “Dear Father of Jesus.” No! He said to pray to “Our Father” … as His child. So, when you talk to God, imagine you are having a talk with your Heavenly Daddy. Tell Him about your day … your hopes … your dreams … your successes … your failures … your concerns. Then listen. Let His “still, small voice” speak to your heart … instruction, guidance and His joy in spending time with you.
I am so accustomed
To looking at myself – and others –
Through my eyes,
Or through the eyes of others.
Open my eyes, Lord,
And my heart,
To see myself – and others –
Through Your eyes,
Through Your love.
Only in this way
Can I see truly.
Only in this way
Can I love with Your love.
Only in this way
Can I know who I am,
And Whose I am…
Your beloved child.