I wrote this post a year or two ago, but wasn't ready to share it until now. Hope it helps you know you're not alone in your struggles and you're pursuit of a God-centered identity.
Yesterday after church our entire family was gathered together--a rare occasion these days. Everyone was pitching in and preparing a brunch together. A conversation sprang up about homeschooling and the misconceptions surrounding it. One of my kids made a comment along the lies of, "I don't understand, when homeschooling has been proven to result in better test scores and a better education, why it is still so criticized."
Another child who really struggled at home and ended up needing a more traditional approach to learning responded with, "Homeschooling wasn't better for me; it was trash for me."
Suddenly I was having a crisis of identity.
Before you start forming negative opinions about this "ungrateful" child of mine, please don't. There is so much to that story (and that child) you don't know. There are things behind that statement which need unpacking (but will have to wait for another post). And there are assumptions that could be made about that comment which were never intended. I know because we spent the next hour hashing it all out. But that's not the point here. The point is my response to that statement.
One of my kids made an offhanded comment in the middle of a conversation and suddenly I felt hurt, offended, and very defensive. Why? Because (at least in that moment) my identity was coming from 1) what I did/continue to do with the majority of my time (i.e. homeschool) and 2) someone else's opinion of me and my performance. In that moment my child's opinion of me and the job I had done homeschooling was more important to me than God's opinion.
When I started homeschooling twenty plus years ago it was because I felt God was calling me to that decision. So if homeschooling is a calling God put on my life then I am accountable to Him alone for the job I do. Will other people benefit and/or suffer because of my faithfulness (or lack thereof) to carry out that calling? Undoubtedly yes. But ultimately I am accountable to God alone. This means that if I faithfully carry out that calling and walk in obedience to the things God asks me to do, it shouldn't matter if no one else is impressed with the job I've done. In fact, they may even be disappointed...but God is still pleased.
Perhaps no one in the Bible embodies this better than Job. You know the story--Job was "blameless and upright" before God, and God had blessed him. Satan was sure Job's obedience to God was due to those blessings, so God gave Satan permission to test Job. Within a matter of days Job's whole life fell apart. He lost his wealth, his livelihood, his family, and his health. Still he chose obedience to God. And that's when the criticism started. His friends chastised and mocked him; even his own wife joined in. But Job was stalwart. He refused to be moved by others opinions and instead sought God's. Not that Job was perfect...he wasn't. He struggled with doubts. He questioned God. He was tempted with despair. But through it all Job sought one person's opinion and one only--God's.
You know the rest of the story. After all the heartache and struggles, God blessed Job. He rewarded his faithfulness with a return that was double what he'd had before. I'm not saying this is a biblical pattern. We can't expect that what God did for Job will be the same thing He'll do for us. God has a unique purpose and plan for every life. But what we can take away from this story is this: 1) our obedience must be to God and God alone--i.e. no one else's opinion should matter--and 2) God blesses those who obey Him.
So where is your identity coming from? Is it coming from what you do and how well you do it? Is it coming from what others think of you? Is it coming from what you think of yourself? Or is it coming from God? If you have believed that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life then you are a child of God. That is your identity. God loves you and thinks you're wonderful. It doesn't matter that you're not perfect. It doesn't matter that you make mistakes. It doesn't matter that you struggle with sin, temptations, or doubt. It doesn't matter what others think of you. It doesn't even matter what you think of you. Your identity is secure. So take heart and rest in that!
(Photo courtesy of Meiying Ng)