I’m an adoptive mom of eight children. Identity is often a conversation we have in our home.
Where did I come from?
Who do I look like?
Do I have good characteristics that come from my first mom and dad?
Do I have good characteristics that come from my adoptive family?
As I watch my children wrestle with the answers to these questions, I am moved to also question my own identity.
Who am I?
Where do I come from?
Am I of value to this world?
Are my particular gifts and talents as good as someone else’s qualities?
The other day, my family was hosting a birthday party at our farm. We enlisted our children to help get everything ready. One child swept the barn, another mowed the lawn, another set out chairs, and another hooked up the wagon for a hayride. Mike and I stood back and watched our children work. They weren’t complaining—they were smiling!
About 30 minutes before the party was to start, we found one son in the kitchen with construction paper and markers and another hauling an armful of blankets through the mudroom. “Wait,” we shouted. “What are you doing? The party is about to start!” They both looked up confused. “Well,” the older son said, “I’m making party signs to put on the wagon, and he’s getting blankets so that the girls have something soft to sit on during the wagon ride.”
Without any direction from Mom and Dad, they were using their unique giftedness in a way that brought joy to themselves as well as others. The boys did that on their own. They saw a place to use their skills, and they didn’t hesitate.
Mike and I looked at our children and then at one another and began to smile. Our children may doubt who they are in this world, but we don’t. We see their beauty, creativity, thoughtfulness, uniqueness, and we smile. God will wait patiently until they see what He sees. He sees His own children, the love of His life, and He smiles!
In Ezekiel 16, God is talking to Jerusalem, God’s own people who have turned away from Him. In this story, Jerusalem is an unfaithful wife. The Scripture doesn’t talk about her as an adult, though. It talks about who she was as a child. This is what the Scripture says:
“On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die. But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘live!’ And I helped you thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel.” Ezekiel 16:4-7 a (NLT)
How can we help our children to see through the difficult things and on to the peace that God has for them?
Delight in your child’s uniqueness
Express joy in your child. Delight in the things that make them uniquely who they are. Encourage them to use their God-given gifts.
Allow struggle or imperfection
Sometimes we think that no struggle will equal confidence. This is not true. As our children struggle to find their identity in Christ, they will try on different personalities. In some areas, they will shine. In others they will fail. That is ok. Their failures will only make their success sweeter.
Point to the Creator
When you find joy in a characteristic that your child has, point your child back to the Lord. “Isn’t it great that God made you such a good problem solver? You are great at finding the answers to things even when they are tough.”
How are you helping your child form his or her identity?
Where is your child struggling right now?
What is one practical way you can encourage your child?