For what seems like too long, I’ve struggled with my identity. Who am I, really? Other than my given name, I have titles that include; daughter, sister, niece, aunt, wife, mother, speech pathologist, homemaker, and blogger. But, all of these are not the total essence of who I am.
In philosophy, essence is described as, “a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is”. For instance, take a completely designed canvas. The first property is a blank canvas. Next, comes the artist’s conceptualized design. In order to bring the design into existence, the artist must, then, gather all the appropriate materials. The artist proceeds in creating the design. There may be some roadblocks, typically involving trial and error. However, all of these things must take place. This is the essence of the completely designed canvas. Without which, it would just be a blank canvas.
The essence of my identity is much like this. When I was a newborn, I began as a blank canvas. Never encountering, never experiencing, never enduring. With growth, I began to make observations and form concepts. I would plan things that I would have wanted to try. I would have avoided those things that I was discouraged by. And, yes, there have been roadblocks, typically involving taking and making mistakes. However, all of these things had to take place. All of these characterize who I am; without which, my identity would not exist.
I have spent much time encountering, experiencing, and enduring; both good and bad. This ‘group of properties’ have dealt me my fair share of roadblocks- otherwise known as hardships and responsibilities. I’ve learned some lessons from ‘the school of hard knocks‘. And any time I’ve tried to face these obstacles in my own strength, by my own ideals, and with my own efforts I was setting myself up to fail.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not without effect. No I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”- 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
I am what I am- the essence of my identity- has been only made possible by the grace of God.
So profound. I can prove this to be true by my own life’s examples. Whenever hardships and responsibilities have come my way, I’ve acted selfish. I’ve proclaimed, “This isn’t fair!”, “Why me?”, “I don’t want to do it!”, or “This is going to hurt too much.”.
Oh, but, grace. God’s good will, loving-kindness and favor has gifted me with His strength, increased my faith, and nudged me to exercise His virtues. His grace gives me the ability to not take and make those same mistakes over-and-over again.
I’ve encountered, experienced, and endured hardships. But, because of the grace of God, I have increased hopeful expectations, perseverance, and a vigorous disposition.
I’ve encountered, experienced, and endured responsibilities. But, because of the grace of God, I have gained more maturity, determination, and leadership skills.
Indeed, all of these ‘properties’ contribute to the essence of my identity. Yes, it is my actions and reactions that propel me to encounter, experience, and endure obstacles. However, beyond my mere efforts that fail me is the ever-present power of God’s grace working in me. And, He promises to continue giving grace- in order that I can overcome my failures- until my life’s canvas is made complete, and I will be able to receive his eternal salvation.
Heavenly Father, I confess to You that, at times, I have been selfish. I ask for Your forgiveness. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atonement for my sins. I thank You that because of Jesus, You bestow Your grace upon me. I ask and gratefully receive Your power that makes me capable to not make the same mistakes again. It is in YOUR name that I pray. Amen.
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”- Acts 20:24 (NLT)