Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Who are you? It seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? But think about it for just a moment. Who are you? What are the first things that enter to your mind in response to that question? When meeting a new friend or colleague, we tend to spout off a list of roles we answer to. I’m a mom, wife, sister, aunt, or friend. Or maybe we answer with a job title. I’m a teacher, hair dresser, administrative assistance, or business owner. Perhaps we begin to discuss a current or future project. I’m writing a book, joining the church choir, or launching a single mom’s ministry in my community.
When most of us are asked who we are, we respond with what we do. As women, we are doers by nature. We are always fixing someone or something. We hold life together, don’t we? I often joke to my husband that if something happens to me, he is going to struggle to know what to do next – where to locate the important papers, his socks, or our children!
I recently read a comic online that described the difference between how a woman and man get ready for bed. A woman determines she is tired at 8pm and begins the journey of putting the children down for bed. This is after she’s cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen, helped with homework, and bathed the children. After thirty minutes of nighttime stories, prayers, and repeated potty visits, the children are tucked in. It is only then that the woman remembers she needs to thaw out meat for tomorrow’s dinner. While she’s in the kitchen, she’ll start a grocery list for this weekend and jot a few things on a to-do list for tomorrow. Oh, and there’s one more load of laundry that needs to be washed, so might as well get that going too. She throws in some detergent and starts the load. On her way to the bedroom, she notices dirty socks on the floor that need to be taken to the laundry and a shirt on the dresser that needs a button sewn on. After handling those tasks, she’s finally in the bedroom, changing for bed, when she notices that her fingernails could probably use a quick polish and her clothes for tomorrow could use a touch from the iron. Finally, at 10:45pm, she tiredly collapses into to bed. The difference with her husband? He determines he’s tired at 10:00pm, and he heads to bed!
Of course, this is all in good fun and many of us are blessed with husbands that help with so much around the house. But the point is, as women, we are wired differently. We see to all the details and little things that help us (and others around us) to function smoothly throughout the day. We are chauffeurs, counselors, dishwashers, consultants, chefs, clothes washers, and fixer-of-all-boo-boo’s. And all of that is fine, when it’s in proper perspective. The danger lies in the doing becoming the defining.
Then, he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:29
I find this fascinating. Jesus wanted to know if the disciples fully understood who he is. They were witnessing his miracles and experiencing first-hand His presence. Yet, Jesus knew it was important that the disciples understood exactly who he is. The same is true for us. We must fully understand who Jesus is in us, to fully understand who we are, in Him.
Only one thing is eternal – our relationship with Jesus. Beauty fades. Positions change. Titles come and go. Unfortunately, relationships sometimes fail. Friends and family sometimes pass away. Children grow up. When our marital status (whether single or married) becomes who we are and what we live for, we must refocus. When what our children do and say becomes our everything, we must refocus. When our beauty (whether we see ourselves as such or lacking thereof) defines us, we must refocus. When a platform of ministry (such as Sunday school teacher, member of the choir, author of a book, or anything else for that matter) becomes our worth, we must refocus.
When anything – anything at all – determines who we are, we must desperately seek the word of God to set our sights on what He says about who we are. The same is true in how we see other believers too. We cannot place worth on how many members are in his church or her Sunday School class. We cannot be concerned with the size of bank accounts or job titles. None of those things matter. We work not for salvation, for that was given freely. We choose to work, because we are saved.
We are daughters of the living God, the King. We are not defined by what we do – whether good or bad – rather by what Jesus did on the Cross for us. We can never earn more love from our Lord. He loves us infinitely. I have a confession. I am a “striver”. There is just no doubt about it. I like to get an atta-girl. I like to accomplish goals and write out to-do lists to mark things off the list. I like five-year plans and twenty-year visions. I am hopeful of one day hearing, “Well done my good and faithful servant” from my Heavenly Father. But I must, must, must understand (and so do you) that striving for excellence is not about earning a position, title, or platform, and certainly not about earning my Heavenly Father’s loves. It isn’t about becoming anything. What defines who we are is about simply being. Being a daughter of the Creator of Heaven. Being his beloved. Being chosen to spend eternity with him.
Jennifer Maggio is mom of three, author, and speaker. She is passionate about using her story to encourage others about the goodness of God. She is founder/CEO for The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has a passion to encourage hurting women and single mothers. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
*** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.