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Who Do You Think You Are

May 10, 2019

“Who do you think you are?!”  It’s not a fun question to be asked.  Because the real message is you’re not as important as you think you are, or as smart, or good, or adequate, or a dozen (maybe a hundred) more things.  The bottom line is, you’re less than.  “Who do you think you are?” is a not a question at all.  It’s a put-down.  And it’s almost always said with sarcasm or cynicism.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been asked this question by another person.  It hasn’t been that long since I’ve heard it in my head, though.  Like about 5 minutes ago when I started writing this blog.  “Who do you think you are?  Writing about how to make a good family?  Are you kidding?  Come on.”

I know where this all comes from.  You probably do, too.  Author and pastor, Steven Brown, used to say, “It smells like smoke because it’s from hell.”  I have an enemy who never tires of trying to pull me off track with temptation.  He never tempts me to knock off a convenience store or sell secrets to enemies of America (like they’d want to know anything I know…).  The most powerful temptations come at me in the form of this primary accusing question, “Who the heck do you think you are?”

There’s an important reason why this is such a powerful question/accusation.  Who you think you are – who you believe yourself to be – has more power to shape and drive your behavior and choices than anything else in your life.  Your identity, your true identity, is the most important issue in your life.

You serve many roles in your life.  Wife, husband, son, daughter, father, mother, employee, employer, friend.  And these just scratch the surface.  Your roles are not your identity, though.  They’re only the contexts from which you express your identity.

If this sounds like psychobable, I get it.  I’d love to take about 20 pages, single-spaced, to write all I have on this, but I won’t.  Yer welcome.  But I have to unpack it a little because there is nothing that will either hold you back or propel you forward in your personal life, your marriage, your family, and virtually every other area of your life as your understanding of your identity will.

The psychological word for this is self-image.  Its twin-attached-at-the-hip is self esteem.  Your self-image will always determine your self esteem.  What you believe about your identity will always determine the value you place on yourself.  The value you place on yourself is the primary driver for what you do and how you do it.

Lots of people spend their lives believing they’re who the significant people in their lives say they are.  If the message is positive, it’s life-giving, but if it’s negative, it’s deadly.  One of the things that makes this so huge is that kids pick up meaning from messages that aren’t always correct.  They connect dots incorrectly because they don’t have enough experience and background (not to mention not enough neurology) to connect them appropriately, according to reality.  But they’ll connect the dots, whether they’ve got the actual meaning or not.  They have to.  It’s how they organize life.  We never outgrow this.

Can you see why this is so crucial for parents to get?  When you say, “Darlin’, you can be anything you want to be,” to a preschooler, you mean, “I want you to be the most fantastic you you can be.”  But what the kid hears is, “I can be an NBA star, because that’s what I want to be.”  The problem comes if the kid maintains that dream, but doesn’t grow taller than 5’8″, can’t dribble, can’t shoot, and runs slow.  He heard you tell him he could be an NBA player.  Which you didn’t actually tell him, but that’s what he heard.  Realistically, even if he had grown up to be 6’10” and fast on his feet, the odds, even then, are overwhelmingly against him ever being an NBA player, and even more against him being a star.

The opposite is true, too.  When a kid hears, “Don’t get your hopes up.  You’re not going to get that (whatever “that’ is),” they may hear, “You won’t ever get it because you don’t deserve it, and you never will.”  It’s heartbreaking to me, but some kids actually hear that exact message from one or both of their parents, because that’s the exact words they use.  That’s a message that they will carry until someone introduces them to the idea that they’re not defined by what other people tell them they deserve.  Many people carry this broken message with them through their entire lives.  And broken messages make broken people.

So, as the parent, what do you do?

Part of the stewardship of your role in your kids’ lives is to give them a healthy, God-honoring view of themselves.  Other people in their lives help shape their self-image, but the most influential people in their lives is YOU.  Even in a highly connected, technologically advanced age, where there are millions of other voices crowd their world, studies confirm that nobody is as influential in a kid’s life than their parents.

Got it.  That doesn’t answer the question of what you should do, though.

Here’s my best answer: tell them what God believes about them.

To quote Family Feud, “Good answer!”

The source for this is the Bible.  Both the Older Testament and the Newer Testament are laced with what God believes about you and your kids.  This is the bedrock reality.  But for most people, it isn’t what they believe about themselves.  How could they?  They’ve never heard what God says He believes about them.

There are tons of resources on the Internet about this.  Here’s one that will get you started: Click it up and let God whisper His love into your heart.

You can be creative with how you communicate this to your kids.  Take one thing from the list every day or so and put it on a sticky note that you put on the bathroom mirror.  Write one of the things on the list on a note and put in their lunch bag or box.  Send them a quick text message of one thing on the list.  Or an email.  Last thing before bedtime (even for older kids), tell them one thing on the list.  Not every kid gets it the same way, but every one of your kids need to hear from you that they are loved and treasured by you and by God.  They need to hear the truth about who they really are.

This is not the same thing as a Participation Trophy.  Don’t get me started with that.  This is about telling your kids the truth about who they are.  Because they’ll get the same, “Who do you think you are?” question you get, and they need to be able to answer it.  The best answer will always be, “I am who God says I am.”

And, by the way, as you communicate these truths to your kids, make sure you hear them for yourself.

From → Marriage

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