There are a lot of things I don’t really feel like. I don’t feel like doing laundry. I don’t feel like vacuuming the floors. I don’t really feel like paying the bills.
You get it. I don’t really feel like doing that stuff. But I do it anyway. Eventually.
Sometimes I think I am defined by my behavior. When people first meet me, they always start out by asking what I “do”, especially if I’m applying for a loan or visiting a church. When I quit homeschooling our kids, even some of my friends asked me what I was “going to do now.” I told them I was considering petty larceny—because the hours were good and it paid pretty well.
I don’t usually say that to strangers, though.
Of course, the consequences of petty larcency make it a lousy choice, so in the end I always qualify my life and tell the truth by simply answering—I am a homemaker.
But that’s not really who I am.
If you take out all the things you do from the way you describe who you are to others, there isn’t much left to talk about, is there?
Sometimes people attend twelve step programs and define themselves by their weaknesses. “Hi,” they tell each other as they take the spotlight, “I’m Mary and I’m an alcoholic.” Or a gambler. Or a drug addict. Or a dozen other things for which there are twelve step groups. I’m not knocking support groups. They are a lifeline of hope for many.
But if I tell you I’m a homemaker, then isn’t it logical that I should live out my identity, walk away and start sweeping some floors? If I tell you I’m an alcoholic, shouldn’t I go drink alcohol? If I believe I’m a drug addict, doesn’t it make sense for me to keep doing drugs? Does defining myself by the things I do really give me an identity? And does defining myself by my weaknesses really set me free from them?
I’m just wondering.
Someone told me once that I’m an overcomer. Then I read that God says that’s who I am, too. I didn’t really believe it because there are still a lot of things in my life that I need to overcome. Maybe I shouldn’t walk around acting like I have a Master’s Degree in overcoming, I thought to myself, until I’ve officially overcome everything. Wouldn’t that make me a liar if I boast about my accomplishments before they’re accomplished?
I guess so. If accomplishing things was the basis for my identity.
But what if my identity is a gift. What if I stop hoping I can do anything to change myself and start believing I’ve already been changed? Because that’s another thing God said. The day I exchanged my life for His Life, I got a new identity. I didn’t feel it happen. I still looked the same. And it was years before I started learning the truth about what He did inside me that day.
But ignorance didn’t keep it from being true. It just kept me from living in freedom.
So I guess it’s true that I am an overcomer even when I don’t feel like it’s true. It’s true that I am as righteous as Jesus Christ. It’s true that I am His beloved. I am accepted by Him. I’m complete in Him. And holy.
Even if the floors are covered in dog hair and the water bill is overdue and all my socks are dirty. I’m still an overcomer.
Maybe that’s how freedom feels. Maybe God told the truth when He said He made me new. Maybe that gives me permission to believe it. Maybe defining myself has nothing to do with my weaknesses and everything to do with who He says I am.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if I ever feel like an overcomer. Just knowing it’s true is like a transfusion of hope that Jesus will always make me overcome.
And on my worst day, if I sit across the table from a stranger at Starbucks wearing my smelly socks covered in dog hair and no makeup, I can still introduce myself as “Eula, an overcomer.”
Bet that’d knock their socks off.
With thanks to Craig Sunter for the use of the fascinating sock photo. Craig's original photo can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/16210667@N02/13933268137/in/photolist-neeDbZ-abkUvJ-hapzZ-5TXSt-iUYwAo-7dMN54-864K4o-oUpi4i-4DVQvj-RJQMt-4csqKZ-4eDAcV-2XZanV-i9Ggsn-6pGnDo-6P3MeT-96PvRA-prW8rs-pJSC-93qJVY-BtKwY-6GRgN2-2FRuU-hbveNk-62VZZR-xcGz5-yxqve-8T63zE-4hQome-a77rpx-4GoG6t-8Q2Gbh-FY7cM-nVQFa-4NfLbn-6e8Fhf-6pGnDL-5WMX8M-BKBRt-C48Gd-abkVxo-4jDeRy-psAEGs-aPyct-4E54YL-Ny16N-buk4oC-4hQodn-5YpjmM-abi57p/