“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Phillipi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets’, ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:13-15)
I remember the first time I was asked the question, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” I was in Mrs. Graham’s 5th grade class at Elizabeth Sherman Elementary School. When the question was raised, I can recall a small panic attack going on inside my head: “Oh my god! I don’t know who I want to be when I grow up.” I was almost disgusted at the thought. I hadn’t thought about it with any seriousness. In my 11 year old mind, adulthood was at least a million years away. But I knew I needed to come up with an answer quickly. So I sat there, waiting my turn, listening to the other kids’ responses. Some said they wanted to be doctors, others teachers, and there were even future garbage men, basketball players, hairdressers and musicians in the group. I was thankful not to be the first to respond because it gave me time to think.
“A lawyer!” I blurted with confidence and assurance that I confirmed with a big grin on my face, giving the impression that I’d been thinking of this my entire life. Then she asked the follow-up question, “What kind of law do you want to practice?” Wait! What!? I don’t know! I didn’t even know there were “kinds” of law.
This was the beginning of my journey towards finding my purpose. As time went on, I didn’t give much more thought to being a lawyer, and I certainly didn’t work toward it.
By the time I’d graduated from high school, I tried to find a career path-a purpose in life-my reason for living. I dabbled in creative writing, wanting to be the next Beverly Cleary, but not enough to wear the title, Writer. By the age of 18, all I could really say was that I was a bonafide “Barbeque Girl” who had worked in the family restaurant faithfully since the age of 13. I worked so many hours in the restaurant that I reeked of smoke even when I wasn’t there. I still didn’t know who I wanted to be, but I knew I didn’t want to be her for the rest of my life. So off to the military I ran.
I figured the military would surely show me enough of the world and make it easy to decide the rest of my future. It didn’t. It did, however, help me add a few more labels to my name. In the Navy I was a Petty Officer third class Signalman. I then changed jobs and became MP (Military Police) and Patrolman Jones. My name changed to Petty Officer Hawkins after marrying my husband, Sean. Did these new names mean that I’d reached my destiny? It didn’t feel like it, so I kept searching.
Two years later I became a mom and that felt great! Being responsible for a little life was more frightening than my time in the military. Motherhood felt like destiny.
As more time passed, I added Veteran of the United Armed Forces to my resume. Now what? I still hadn’t found my life’s purpose.
By twenty-nine I was Homeowner. By thirty-one three more little people began calling me mom, and at thirty-five I became a North Carolinian. I was not working in my dream job yet and was still confused as to what that would be. Eventually I went to college after receiving a deep calling to become a writer…again.
I graduated from college and a few years later was asked to be the Keynote Speaker at the community college. “Who, me?” I thought. “Why me?” “Who am I, what have I done, and what will I say?” I had a mini panic attack…ok, multiple major panic attacks before that day arrived. I felt so inadequate-so unachieved. I was just a wife, mother, and social worker. I had not solved any great mysteries. I couldn’t even figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up and I was in my forties. I had not led a great revolt or climbed the highest mountain. I didn’t save a child from a burning building or win the million dollar lottery. I didn’t know the keys to success or what was necessary for world peace.
It was in preparing for that speech that I realized I am who I am. I am Yvette! I am everything that identifies me. A wife, mother, daughter, sister, neighbor, friend, social worker, and writer. In other words, I was being (doing) exactly what I was intended to do. When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush with instruction to lead the Israelites from captivity, Moses wanted to know what he should tell the Israelites If they asked him God’s name. “What should I tell them? God responded, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:14). God was saying I am everything that makes me God. I am everything they need me to be.
With a switched perspective I was able to see that I was everything God intended for me to be at that time in my life and I was successful at it-not perfect, but successful. Yes, God! Thank you! Finally I had found my life’s purpose, my “who I wanna be when I grow up?” Me! I cannot tell you how freeing that felt, and at that moment the stress of my speech, the search for my identity, the negative talk that I was nothing all went away, and the “Peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) rested on me. I stood on that stage under the big bright lights and said exactly that.
While I was busy looking for the one thing that would identify, define, validate, solidify, and prove my worth in this world and secure my future, I didn’t realize I already possessed it in Jesus Christ, and by possessing His Holy Spirit, I had all of the identity I would ever need. I was focused on the wrong things, and almost missed the “Great Reveal” going on inside me. With the scales now removed from my eyes, I was able to see who I truly am in spite of the worldly labels and just how uniquely beautiful He’d created me. “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). Unbeknownst to me, I was trying to minimize the perfect work of the Creator.
I may not be a lawyer, but I am a professional all the same. I am a professional at being me. I don’t need to try and be anything or anyone else. I only need God to refine who I am. He needs to put the finishing touches and polish me up like the great Craftsman He is. I am thankful that He has not changed. He is the same today, tomorrow and forevermore. He has proven to be everything I need Him to be in my life and He supplements for my insufficiencies.
Jesus asked His disciples one question in Matthew 16, “Who do they say I am?” knowing that the answers would be different than His true identity which was revealed to Peter through the Holy Spirit. He responded, “You are blessed…because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:17).
My sisters and brothers in Christ, as you begin to seek God’s peace for your life, do not be distracted by who “they” say you should be or who you are trying to be outside the will of God. God has created you like none other and you were designed on purpose with a purpose. Recognize the value you possess through the Messiah, and begin to walk in the newness of you. Jesus did not come just to give you eternal life. He came to give you a new identity and abundant life while on earth: “I come that you might have life more abundantly” (John 10:10). Rest in being you and be blessed.
We come to you acknowledging You as the Creator of all things in heaven and earth. You are awesome and do all things well including us. We recognize that we are so easily distracted by the sparkling lights and agendas of this life that we sometimes miss You working in our lives. Help us set our minds on things above. Deliver us from our own understandings and order our steps so we may begin to walk in the purpose and identity You placed in us, unleashing the gifts and talents You have instilled. Calm the anxieties, soothe the fears, and comfort our troubled hearts.
In Jesus’ name.
Here are some new identifies received through Jesus Christ:
Friend (John 15:15), Forgiven, Justified (Romans 3:24) Sanctified (Romans 3:24), Child of God (John 1:12), Redeemed, Free (Romans 8:2), Heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), Accepted by Christ (Romans 15:7), New Creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) Righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), Chosen (Ephesians 1:4), Of Royal Priesthood, God’s Special Possession (1 Peter 2:9)
Join us here again for Monday Mayhem where you’ll meet the lovely Vanessa.