A Man’s True Identity

Have you noticed that as men, we can often relate to others only in terms of what each does for a living? Our job becomes our identity, who we truly are. Isn’t that why the loss of a job can create such a crisis in a man’s life? Certainly, the issue of providing for our family is one that shouldn’t be ignored, but this seems to go beyond that.

Often I hear about divorces that are due to the father being more married to his work than to his wife. Could it be that his identity was wrapped up in his job and not in what it should be? Each one of us might do well to ask the question, “Who am I, really?” If everything I have and currently know is taken from me, am I still someone, or nothing?

There have been times in my life that I have unknowingly had my identity in other things. In Florida I was working eleven hours a day to get ahead in my job. The result was a neglected wife struggling with three young children and a gold (actually solid bronze) bar with the words “Outstanding Performance” on it. Is that something to be proud of or what? Now it is easy to see what a fool I was as I daily see that bar sitting in front of me on my desk. It isn’t displayed as a trophy, but as a sad reminder to prevent me from losing my priorities again. Jobs come and go, but a family is eternal! The precious souls that God entrusts to our care are eternity bound, and as fathers we are powerful influences in their lives.

But the answer is not to have our identity in our family either. Then what happens when there is not peace in the home or a loved one is lost? It is only when our identity is in the Lord Jesus Christ that all these other areas come into proper perspective. You see, I’m the adopted son of God the Father through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

If my identity is in the Lord Jesus Christ, then my identity is steadfast, since nothing can sever my relationship with my Lord (Romans 8). No matter what the circumstances, there can be peace when I am in Christ Jesus. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

A Tired Mama

Not long ago I had a bad week! It was especially disheartening because I had just come home from a wonderful three-and-a-half-day weekend away alone with my husband. I thought I would be skipping through the house with energy and love bubbling over onto all my family. Instead, I was dragging through each day. The children seemed very demanding and naughty, and school was long and tedious. I was disappointed in my lack of patience and the resigned attitude with which I dealt with the day’s needs.

After two and a half days of feeling like crying but not being able to figure out what to cry about, I realized I was tired. My feelings and attitudes were coming from my physical lack of energy. This may not seem like a great insight to you, but for me it was. Instead of my world being bleak and forlorn, I realized I felt bleak and forlorn.

Understanding the problem didn’t change my energy level, but it did allow several things to happen. First, I was able to accept my reactions to what was going on around me as coming from a physical source. Then I could treat it as I would the flu or a cold and try to get more rest. I could also work at mind control in thinking God’s thoughts rather than my own thoughts. The Lord Jesus said He came to bear my burdens, so when I am worn out I need to be especially careful to cast them on Him. I also want to confess to my family each instance of my wrong attitudes and ask their forgiveness, rather than letting them pile up and make the burden of guilt even greater. I didn’t have to feel guilty for being tired, but I did need to handle the tiredness in a godly manner rather than a selfish way.

It wasn’t long until my normal energy level returned and I “felt” like myself again. I wished the first day I had felt “down” I had been aware of what was causing my discouragement rather than struggling with it for two and a half days.

I wonder how many difficulties, when they become mountains, actually relate more to our physical condition than to the circumstances themselves. When we get run down, behind on rest, are pushing beyond our physical limits, and maybe don’t even know we are, our whole outlook changes. We can go to biblical examples to confirm this. I remember doing a Bible study one time where we read stories about godly men who became physically worn out and suddenly lost their spiritual zeal–men like Ezekiel, Jonah, and Jeremiah. But God met their needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual. He will do that for us too.

I encourage us as moms to become aware of how often our feelings and emotions are flowing from our physical state. Then we can accept them as temporary without having to be overwhelmed. We can take them to our burden bearer, Jesus Christ, and leave them with Him while we rest in Him.