For a very long time, let’s just say all my life, I identified as a quitter. I truly believed that’s who I really was. In 2016 I bought the book A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz and I read it faithfully for four straight days. And then I quit the book about how to quit quitting. If that doesn’t qualify me as a quitter, I’m not sure what would.
But here’s the thing: identifying and identity are not the same thing. It’s like empathy and pain. When you are empathetic you don’t actually feel someone else’s pain, but you can relate to the pain they’re experiencing, usually because you’ve experienced a similar pain yourself. In the same way, if you identify yourself as something – for me it was a quitter – that doesn’t mean you are what you relate to simply because you’ve experienced times of feeling a certain way.
God recently challenged my way of thinking and opened my eyes to this paradox. What we believe we are is based on our experiences; who we actually are is based on how we were created. When God knit me together in my mother’s womb He stitched into my very DNA my true identity. His wonderfully complex creation is irrevocable. Yet from the moment I was born experiences in my life contradicted the truth of my birthright. I began to identify with what I saw – I did not finish the things I started, therefore I am a quitter. So I made a lovely new nametag for myself with purple sharpie in all cap letters that said “Quitter.” I wish that was the only one I made, but there were others… unwanted… broken… ugly… too many to remember them all. But every one was a label I wore, a word that defined me, and I believed that’s who I was.
However, when I started to unpack the concept of identity, I began to realize that my Father, the God of the Bible, did not stitch a single one of those labels into me when He was knitting me. They were all man-made…by others and me. It was synthetic DNA, not the real deal. If you’ve ever been an introvert at a nametagged event then you know the best part of the night is when you finally get to walk out, rip off the nametag, and throw it in the trash. So, that’s what I did. One by one I brought each nametag to the Lord and asked if it was His name for me. When I wasn’t sure, I went to His Word and read what He had to say about me. And one by one I have thrown these one-time use stickers that I’d been wearing for years in the trash.
Every now and then I put on a shirt that still has an old sticker on the front upper left. And if I’m in a hurry and don’t look in the mirror before I jump into my day, I may not even notice it for hours. But when I do, I have to bring it to Him for clarity. Overall, my actions no longer define me. Only my Father has that privilege. When I want to quit (which is still way too often), I can tell myself “I’m not a quitter,” and it works because it’s true!
Do you know another label He didn’t create any of us to wear? Label Maker.