As I walked out of the playground and home, with tears in my eyes again, I prayed to God “this has to get easier soon!” Elise, my daughter and eldest child, had just started school and I was having a tough time leaving her in the care of her school. This was made even harder as her younger brother, Jonah, had also just started nursery. My babies were growing up. As I walked home I heard God quite clearly say it’s their time to grow, become more independent and develop who they are, who I’ve made them to be.
This is something that’s been on my mind for a while now. Identity. How do we discover our Identity? What is My Identity? Who am I?
Before I got married and had children, I was a teacher and a youth leader. Rightly or wrongly I found my identity in the things that I did. That was who I was.
After I married my wonderful husband, I felt things changing but I was still teaching and my identity had only changed a little bit. After having Elise, I no longer taught, at least not full time. My job was not teacher, but mummy. Since then it has been a whirlwind, an amazing and incredible ride, but sometimes I feel that I have lost who I am along the way.
Since going down to the Cherish Conference last year, God had been nudging me to start looking at myself and who I am. At the conference I felt Him say “you are not who you used to be.” So who am I?
I love being a wife to Phil, it’s an answer to so many prayers, it’s such a wonderful adventure and he’s a better husband than I could ever have imagined. I had no idea how much I could love my three children – they are our hugest blessings and are constantly bringing me so much joy (and a few extra grey hairs!!) I love being mummy. Since becoming a mummy I’ve made loads more friends and I appreciate the time I get to spend with friends so much more now. I love being a friend. My parents are also my closest friends and some of my biggest supporters. I love being a daughter, a sister, an aunty. I am passionate about seeing an end to human trafficking in my life time and won’t stop until it is. I love being an abolitionist.
But as I looked at each of these roles, I still didn’t feel like that’s who I am. I remember hearing time and time again “your identity is in Christ.” I agreed with it. But on paper what does that mean?
During one of my rare quiet moments, I began to write down what the Bible says I am. I am loved (1 John 4:10). I am forgiven (1 John 1:9). I am saved (Romans 10:9-10). I am free (2 Corinthians 3:17). I am worthy (Ephesians 2:4-6). I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27). I am alive in Christ (Galatians 2:20). I am like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). I am a dwelling for the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). I am a follower of Jesus (Matthew 16:24). I am able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
I looked at the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5. If the Holy Spirit lives in me then I am loving. I am joyful, even when I don’t feel like it. I am meek. I am a peace-maker. I am kind. I am good. I am faithful. I am gentle. I have self-control, even with a chocolate bar! I am glad. I am forbearing. I am longsuffering, even during the Six Nations! I am patient. I have an even temper, even when I’m tired and the kids are having a tantrum! I have self-restraint.
I won’t lie by saying that when I had this revelation I instantly changed into all of these things. Actually, looking at this list of who God says I am scared me a bit, even though I’m not supposed to be fearful! But the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 came to mind. We are being transformed from glory to glory. I don’t need to be all of those things right now, it’s a journey. And God’s grace is always more than enough for all of us.
The world, our society and the media often tell us that our Identity is found in what we look like, how successful we are, how popular we are, what kind of wife/mummy we are, how fit we are, how rich we are or how we were brought up. Although these things aren’t bad, I don’t think they give us our true identity.
I have always had a battle with my weight. For a long time, I did feel like my identity was found in my outward appearance, and as I didn’t like the way I looked, I didn’t like me. This is often still a battle in my mind, but standing on what God says about me, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I am learning to not believe that my identity is found in what I look like.
If I remember that the Holy Spirit lives in me, I can be a more loving wife, a more patient mummy, a kinder daughter, a faithful abolitionist. And when I’m having a tough day as a wife or mummy or friend or just as Cat (because let’s be honest we all do), my identity doesn’t need to be rocked. My identity isn’t in a role or what I look like but it’s in Jesus, my Rock. It’s Him who makes me a better me. The one who is steadfast and who can never be shaken.
Written by Cat Bretherton
Cat is married to the lovely Phil and they have 3 wonderful children – Elise, Jonah and Noah. She is a stay-at-home mummy and you can find them all at our Ellon site on Sundays. She likes travelling, reading, movie nights, spending time with her favourites and has a huge collection of decorative hearts!