Five Minute Friday scribblings, Identity

Gather: What Determines Identity?

Gathered Bricks copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—GATHER. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

GATHER

What have you gathered in your life? Has it been cars or clothes or a collection of one thing or another?

I’ve gathered different things throughout my life.

When I was a girl, I swam competitively, and I loved it. Competing in meets gathered me ribbons when I placed in a race. Those were a visible reminder that I had achieved something.

Swimming Ribbons

I gathered good grades through school, finding affirmation in the fact that I was a good learner, smart even.

In college, I gathered some rather bad memories as I made poor choices. I gathered embarrassing tidbits of regret that sometimes still sting.

But I also gathered true friendships. We grew together toward adulthood and learning how to live life well, in spite of our mistakes.

I gathered aspects of life to form my identity. A job as a teacher. Then later working in women’s ministry at our church. I gathered accolades of things done well. I let them form my identity.

Then when God began to give us children, I gathered beauty from the isolation of new motherhood. I learned the lessons that can only be learned as you walk out daily service to a helpless infant. Those things that I used to declare my identity were gone. I was Jeanne—on the shelf—no longer in the middle of everything.

Daisies in bloom FB copy

I had to learn that my identity didn’t come from things I’d done or accomplished. My identity didn’t come from the things I could gather. It came from understanding who I am in Jesus. I am God’s girl . . . loved perfectly, completely and passionately . . . by the One True Gathering God. Who gathers His children to Himself to love them well, and to call them His own.

What about you? What have you gathered in your life? What has helped form your identity?

Vist Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Gather

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13 thoughts on “Gather: What Determines Identity?”

  1. Great blog post. It really made me think. I might use this for a future blog post, if that’s okay. I like what you said. Our identity is in Christ, not our accomplishments.

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    1. Awww, thanks, Stacey. It’s hard to remember our identities are found in Jesus, isn’t it? Yes, you may use this as a future blog post. Let me know when you do so I can stop by. 🙂

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  2. I was going to make a circumspect comment, but Jeanne…you are my friend. You deserve more.

    I have gathered lost, abused, and abandoned dogs because I reached a point in life where I saw enough, and the red mist came down. Social niceties be damned; this world is a slaughter, and I’m stepping in.

    If I could bring people into this sanctuary, I would. I would give a safe place to everyone who needed it, so they could sleep easily knowing that they are protected by the hardest people around. And not to mince words…that’s me, even reduced by illness. Evil will break on me.

    Sometimes God seems to have turned His back. I don’t know why He did, but I take comfort in Housman’s words.

    “These, in the day when heaven was falling,
    the hour when Earth’s foundations fled,
    followed their mercenary calling
    and took their wages, and are dead.

    “Their shoulders held the sky suspended,
    they stood, and Earth’s foundations stay.
    What God abandoned these defended
    and saved the sum of things for pay.”

    There are different kinds of pay. Honour is the highest currency around.

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    1. Andrew, you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve met. In your case, the “things” you gather are good. Being a refuge for your dogs, and for your friends? Priceless. I am thankful for your friendship!

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  3. I was thinking about this when Kate posted the prompt. What have I gathered that gives me identity? You are absolutely right – it’s not what we’ve gathered, it’s in God that we find our identities. Thanks for this profound take on the prompt!

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    1. I sometimes still forget that my identity is found in God. When life goes a little crazy, and especially if I haven’t been spending enough time with God, I find myself looking for my identity in life’s circumstances rather than resting in the fact that my validation, affirmation of who I really am is in who GOD says I am.

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  4. I have struggled with this in a big way. Throughout my life I learned to place value – to hang my identity on – what I could accomplish. Grades. Awards. A place on the college newspaper. Job offers. Supervisory positions. Having a clean, tidy house. Leading a Bible study group.

    Then I got sick. For five years now I haven’t been able to depend on my body. So much has fallen away. Friendships have shifted or faded. I can’t keep up anymore. Wound up depressed and in therapy. And then my counselor said the most profound thing, “Even if all you do today is breathe, you’re still loved by God.”

    Yes and amen to this post.

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    1. Marie, thank you for visiting and sharing a piece of your reality. God has ways of revealing when we are looking to the wrong places to define who we really are. I think I need to write down what your counselor told you. That is a great truth to hang on to when everything else seems to fall apart. I’m so glad you stopped by.

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  5. Amen, Jeanne. I think as women we so often define ourselves by what we do…our accomplishments and achievements. It makes failure extra jarring to those over-achiever identities, doesn’t it?! But we are His and our identity is in the beautiful story He writes over our lives and in knowing that if everything else slipped away, we would still be His. Love who you are, friend…blessed we are sisters in Him. 🙂

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    1. I loved what you said, “We are his and our identity is in the beautiful story he writes over our lives . . . ” Such truth here! I hadn’t thought about Him writing His identity onto our lives, but it’s true. And yes, we are His. There is great comfort in this. Thanks for adding these thoughts. 🙂

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  6. Seeing myself truly takes a good deal of humility. As age begins to creep into my life, things that I use to gather must fade away. I struggle to keep up with other parts of my life. Now I must rely on God for His truths as He told me “I’ll take care of you.” You see I’m His beloved daughter and He loves me. So now I gather His Word confirming who I am.

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    1. We should always be relying on God for His truths, and trusting Him to take care of us. But I’ll admit. I do it best when the hard times—be they health or other struggles—enter my life. There’s reassurance in knowing we are His daughters, isn’t there, Mom? I love that you gather His word and let that confirm who you are. Well said.

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  7. Amen! Our identify comes from our Father–and sometimes he asks us to do things that we think are hard and impossible–but he will never ask us to do something impossible because he will equip us and help us and walk beside us.

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