We’re traveling this weekend – its our last travel soccer tournament of the year. Once we checked into the hotel the girls turned on the tv and located the Disney Channel. We tuned in as Moana and Maui were having their big fight.
Maui tells Moana that he won’t help her restore the heart of Tafiti. They argue, he (rather melodramatically) leaves, and Moana gives up the heart to the ocean and begs to be released from her calling.
For me, things get a little dodgy from a spiritual aspect at this point, but following the tradition of the Polynesian after life philosophy, Moana meets with her Grandmother’s spirit. They talk.
Moana moves from hopelessness to courage as she sings identity statements:
“I am the daughter of the village chief, we are descended from voyagers Who found their way across the world, they call me.
I’ve delivered us to where we are, I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more – still it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me…”
This is a musically powerful moment for the whole movie, a climax of intention, a moment when Moana owns that she has a job to do and will do it… or perish trying.
I could criticize this scene from a theological perspective, but I will instead choose to lay that argument to the side for now. Because, there, tucked within an animated movie, I see Truth.
We are all looking for Identity. We all get lost sometimes.
We tend to look for others to solve our problems for us, as Moana did with Maui. Solving problems takes effort, it takes time, it is rewarding but often not so much fun. It is only under duress, in a hopeless situation, that Moana finds the courage to step forward into her calling.
That is me. And I suspect that is you. (I believe that’s part of the human DNA. Welcome to Earth, third rock from the Sun.) I’m going to talk about this as a “me” description because I don’t want to assume (you know what THEY say about assumptions) but I believe that my “I” in this journey is pretty much across the board a “we.”
One of the reasons I was so passionately engaged in our homeschool journey is that when I was a leader in the organization I felt needed. Parenting has been wonderful for me but it’s just not the same fulfillment that I gained as a professional. There is a difference between looking at a colleague and knowing you’ve done good work and observing a toilet bowl and telling your toddler, “Well done! No mess in the diaper this time!” When my professional identity dissolved into the identity of care taking, as much as I passionately love the kids, I floundered.
Working within the company I gained identity and purpose that felt bigger than just me. I studied and learned the system so I could have helpful answers. I formed my new identity around my role and I was immensely grateful to be in a para-professional position, where I could still think about things other than whether I was making taquitos or peanut butter and jelly for lunch for the hungry horde at our kitchen table.
I stepped away from a regional role at the end of 2017 after five fulfilling and also taxing years. At that time a dear and precious friend gave me a challenge as a benediction: “Don’t do anything for at least a year. Learn how to be still.”
Still? Was that a joke?! I don’t do still. But I valued that friend and I knew she had my best interests at heart. So I tried.
I took up crochet.
I read books. Whole series of books. Then I read them again so the characters would become my friends.
I said No to leadership roles in civic organizations.
I learned, painfully, slowly, imperfectly, to sit still with myself. To look myself in the mirror and practice loving what I saw there with the same, whole love that God sees me.
I saw a monkey of perfectionism perched on my back so firmly embedded that I might need a surgical removal. I recognized a deep, deep grief from the passing of my father that I have made peace with but I doubt will ever go away. I came face to face with a limited body that can’t work as hard as my will.
For awhile I gave up. On all of it. We lived in a house of squalor. We stopped observing bedtimes, the laundry piled high, I was resentful.
Once I let her see it, my sister held my hand and helped me to my feet again. My bestie sat next to me and crocheted. She sat at a table and did Henle Latin with our daughters while I stopped changing out of my pajamas and showering. She never left me, even when I was smelly.
For awhile, I stole their faith in me because I had no faith in myself. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. I had been running so hard for so long I didn’t know how to just be anymore.
Then, day by day, I started identifying who I am based not on how I could perform, but based on who I am as a human. I’m still not done, but this time I’m doing my best to build my identity on things that aren’t circumstantial.
I am loved. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 I didn’t know how much God loves me until I met my own children. I love you all, friends, but I wouldn’t sacrifice one of my children for you. I just wouldn’t. But God did. For ME. And Jesus, knowing what was to come, chose to follow through with it because He wanted to spend eternity with me. You and I, friend – we are so truly, passionately, perfectly loved!
I am His. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. God doesn’t do anything subpar. It’s not in His nature. He chose us, He created us, and (if Genesis 1:31 can be trusted – which it can!) – He sees what He has made and it is Very Good.
I am worthy. God didn’t make a mistake in giving me the gifts I possess. There are things I don’t do as well as others. And there are things I have been given that are unique to me. I am worthy of those gifts. I am worthy of being heard. I am precious and privileged. Those statements, as much as I cringe to make them because they feel arrogant, are true of every human on the planet. That is humility talking. We are worthy. Why? Go back to the first two points: God loves us and we are His. We are worthy because it pleases God to find us worthy. It’s just that simple.
I am purposed. I am called. I prayed persistently for decades of childhood and young adulthood that God would grant me the gift of discernment. He has done that. It freaks me out sometimes that I can see Truth in things that are ordinary to others, but it’s because God gave me purpose and that’s to use my “Spidey-sense” to serve others. He has a purpose for each of us and it’s one He wants us to choose. Do we have to do it? Nope. But we won’t find peace if we ignore the calling. We are purposed to further His glory in a way that is unique and special, individual to our giftings.
All of these “I” statements – they’re transferrable to you. One of the biggest reasons we stay the same, doing the same thing, is that changing is painful. When we don’t know who we are that fear of change become paralyzing because – even if we don’t like what’s happening now, we at least know the mess and can act within it.
What is the phrase? “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
I just want to encourage you to take the time to view yourself through God’s eyes. A friend I knew would say, “When God made you, He did GOOD work!” That, my friends, is TRUTH.
Now, the next step is to seek how you will best glorify Him. Ask him. Don’t worry, He’ll be faithful to let you know and present opportunities as needed and in His timing.
All you have to do is have the courage to take one step at a time!