“Who am I?” It seems we are born asking this question, and we never stop seeking the answer. We all want to know who we are. This search for our identity is the reason the enneagram test of personality has gained so much popularity. Through it we can define ourselves in a single number, sum up who we are, identify with others, and even justify our behaviors. If only human identity was that easy to define; if we could really be summed up in a number. However, if I’m being honest, I would rather not have my identity culled down merely to a number, but instead unfold like the gifts of Christmas, based on the unique way He has created me.
I don’t think God desired our identity to be a mystery and He definitely did not make it hard to know who we are. He shares His thoughts freely in His word: “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), “For we are His workmanship created for good works” (Eph 2:10), “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1Cor 6:19), “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). If we truly want to know who we are we just have to ask our Creator!! He made us, so of course, He knows!! If the answer is that simple then why do our Middle Schoolers struggle with it so much? Two reasons: 1) They stop asking God and 2) We, parents, stop telling them “who” they are.
Parents are the mirrors through which children see and define themselves. Parents of ‘littles’ are great mirrors; so quick to tell their bundle of joy, they are cute, funny, fast, and smart, amazed as their child’s personality, strengths, and passions emerge, excited to share with their child that God has created them uniquely in His image. Little kids think they are GREAT!! So why doesn’t’ that carry over into middle school?
Sadly, during middle school, the knowledge of others, the thief of joy, aka comparison, and the reality of shortfalls come to the forefront, and we as parents are often the messengers. Preteens who once thought they were ‘amazing, fast, and beautiful’ begin to realize that there are others who are “more beautiful’ and that they are “not really that fast” after all. They step out into the world and find that the world is not so quick to sing their praises. The world doesn’t tell them they are fearfully and wonderfully made, the world doesn’t praise their uniqueness or reward them for kindness and compassion. So they ask the world i.e. their peers, social media, television, etc, who they should be, and quickly they lose who they are. More than ever this is the time for parents to answer their question “who am I?” We have to remind them of how God created them and the beauty and perfection of who they are. We have to again be mesmerized at their uniqueness as we watch them develop. However, at this time we have often shifted our own focus from the miracle of “who” our child is to “how” our child is performing. Our focus is not on how “compassionate” our child is but rather how high their grades are. We don’t say in wide-eyed amazement that we think they are ‘fast’ but rather we give them advice on how to be faster. We don’t realize that every word we speak is an insight into our child’s knowledge of who they are. If we say “You can do better”, then we are saying “You are not enough.” If we only ask about their accomplishments, then we are saying “prove to me that you are ‘something special,” rather than “wow, you are something special”.
We spend little time in these critical years telling our children how God created them: “unique, kind, hard-working, precious, beautiful, creative”, and more time telling them where they are lacking. Recently, my husband and I went to dinner with some old friends and I was convicted by the knowledge that everyone shared who their children were based on ‘what they did’, i.e. my daughter is a doctor, my son is the captain of the football team, my child goes to Texas A&M, etc. No one said, “My daughter is compassionate, my son is a hard worker, my child is full of joy.” Hmmm, do we know who our children are? If we don’t know, we need to explore who God created them to be. The next step is to get busy sharing this with them and celebrating their true identity. They will embrace what is celebrated!!!
**Photos courtesy of Natalie Roberson Photography.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.