Enough: Our Search For Significance

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I read a post recently that reminded me of a conversation I had with God a number of years ago. I had been very involved in our church, working in women’s ministry.

All that changed when God decided to fulfill a dream for my husband and me. He gifted us with our oldest son. As soon as we knew we were going to become parents, I let my boss know. He looked at me, a knowing expression in his eyes. “You’re leaving us, aren’t you?”

 

At the moment, I was too wrapped up in the giddiness of coming motherhood. I nodded.

Fast forward twelve months. I went from being in the center of everything at our church,

. . . having daily interactions with women,

. . . ministering to others and pouring myself out for them to . . .

a quiet, cut-off life within the four walls of our home.

With my dream. Our precious son.

I still attended Bible study. But Peter was at an age where he didn’t want to be separated from me.

On one particular day, I was summoned from my group to pick up my boy, who simply wouldn’t be comforted. Disappointment and, yeah, frustration, coursed through me.

 

This calling away, this cutting off of that craving for connection with other women—the feeling of significance I gained while being with others—left me churning.

On my way home, God flat out asked me, “Jeanne, am I enough for you?”

Silence on my end. My heart twisted and a few tears dropped as I sat at the red light.

I knew what my answer should be. “Yes, Lord!”

Instead, I realized, perhaps for the first time, that I sought my identity, my value, my sense of affirmation from others. What they said to me. How I could encourage them.

I strove for significance in the eyes of others.

 

Of course, God loved me. And I was beyond thankful. But, honestly? That didn’t feel like enough.

God called me on this. As I wrestled with Him, He asked me, “If you had no friends, just Me, would that be enough?”

And then I knew. I couldn’t, in my heart-of-hearts, answer yes.

But, that was what I wanted.

For God’s love to be enough for me.

 

Even if He never gave me more friends. Even if the friendships I currently had dissipated. His love had to be enough for me.

God is constant, unchanging, everlasting. Eternal.

God’s love is what matters most.

I suspect many—if not all—of us struggle to know our significance at some point in our lives.

The truth is, we only find lasting significance when we place our identities in Jesus. We only know a heart-level contentment when we embrace the fact that God’s love is enough.

He gives us our identities. We may wear the role of mother, father, husband, wife, sister, friend, employee, ministry leader, coach, fill in the blank . . .

But these are not our identities.

 

Our identity is not found in what we are, but in Whose we are. 

 

When we embrace this truth we can relax into our relationship with God, we discover love in deeper ways.

This doesn’t make life’s circumstances easier, but knowing Whose we are enables us to walk through them with a quiet confidence.

When we understand Whose we are, we fulfill our roles better. Because we live them out, not with the desire to please others or to achieve affirmation. Rather, we live them out knowing that we’re not serving to impress, or gain significance.

We are already significant to the One who is the Creator of all.

 

When we embrace the reality that we are already loved crazy-much by our Father, then we grow in confidence in how we love others. We interact with others sans an agenda and without the motivation of gaining approval.

When I got home that day, I took care of my son—my dream-come-true—and I sat down to journal. I poured out a heart-load of grief and inaccurate thoughts onto the pages.

This began my journey into deeper intimacy with God.

I had to be honest with Him about where I was.

Then I needed to be open to the healing He wanted to do and the realigning of my thoughts and heart to the truth that truly, God is enough.

 

He’s used the gift of motherhood to remind me that He truly is enough. My change of perspective has been a step-by-step process. I haven’t arrived, but I walk with more peace these days. Believing that God is enough for me has strengthened the foundation of my relationship with Him.

What about you? When has God challenged you in your beliefs about Him? What is one lesson God has taught you about Himself?

Click to Tweet: God gives us our identities.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and #RaRaLinkup

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24 thoughts on “Enough: Our Search For Significance

  1. Great post, Jeanne. So thoughtful and beautifully transparent in faith! And the pictures are perfect – very evocative of the mood you’ve created with your words.

    I’m not sure how to describe the interaction of my beliefs about God, and His care for me. I can only attempt to do so by description, and so, if you’ll indulge me –

    Last night (Sunday) I was stretched out on the floor, trying to breathe and to simply get away from the pain, and I was in despair. The end of a weekend means that there’s a lot more I have to do, without Barb’s help, and I knew it was going to hurt. All of it. And it did. Today was the dictionary definition of ‘miserable’.

    But through it – and as I type this – there was a quiet phrase echoing in my head: “It doesn’t matter that it hurts. It just matters that it gets done.”

    In months past I would have, if pressed, admitted that this came from my hyper-Spartan outlook, but I can’t maintain that fiction. I do believe that rather uncompromising message comes from the Almighty, and it’s a direct reflection of His desires and requirements. There are tasks He needs accomplished…my writing is one…and it simply doesn’t matter if I’m still able to stand at the end of the day.

    I don’t resent this; to me it’s a normal way to live. Everything I have within me, all the strength and hope and endurance, is there as a resource to be expended in the service of something bigger…sometimes much bigger, sometimes just a tiny bit bigger.

    I might say, with some arrogance, that it’s perhaps a day-to-day modeling of “no greater love”, but that would be hubris talking. It’s just what’s got to be done. I’m willing to fall so others can rise.

    Wow, long comment. Glad I asked for your indulgence, Jeanne!

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    • Andrew, I always enjoy your comments, be they long or short. 🙂 It’s been beautiful to see how God has tempered your outlook and mindset over the past number of months. I’ve said it before, but I strongly believe God speaks to each of us in the ways He knows He needs to. He gives you words that strengthen you to continue on in your calling to care for those dogs and to write, even when the pain tempts you to give up. Thank you for that reminder as you share how He speaks to you.

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  2. I loved this. As a mother to young kids who gave up her teaching job to be home with them, this rang so true. And I’ve had that moment too, when you have to give in to the idea that you can’t place your satisfaction in circumstances, people, or things. It is a daily giving up of these expectations and instead trusting God to keep you close.

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    • Yes, Jamie. When we find our satisfaction in Jesus, and in who He created us to be, rather than in expectations we (or others) place on us, that’s when we can grow in all that God has created us to become. And, that is when we can discover what it means to be His daughter. I’m so glad you stopped by. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

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  3. Oh, God has a way of showing us our true selves when we’re going through a time of being thwarted or asked to give up something that we think defines us. I sure remember those days when my children were young and I felt as if I had disappeared from the planet! Hopefully, the lessons we learned in those days will carry us through the identity crises we face as we grow older, because the truth that we are of ultimate value to God has certainly been made clear!

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  4. Ah, the big lessons of motherhood. My first child was so good–slept on schedule, learned the meaning of “no,” was a joy in public and private. And I thought it was because I was a good mother.

    Fast forward a few years to child #4. Even though I was older and wiser, he never slept, pushed every boundary and threw legendary tantrums–public and private.

    And God said, “My dear, you don’t own your child’s personality. I do.”

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    • Ahhh, Shirlee, isn’t it funny how much we can attribute to ourselves when things are “going our way?” I love what God shared with you—that He owns our children’s personalities. I hadn’t thought about it quite that way before. There’s comfort in that, isn’t there?

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  5. This one hit me right in the heart! Thanks for this powerful post! I went through something very similar when I left the Army and became a full-time stay at home mom and Army wife… Talk about an “identity” crisis! Blessings!

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    • Liz, it’s a huge transition going from a place where we have a role, and maybe we’re even good at what we do, to a place where we are alone. With our children. No one to give accolades or “good job!” comments. I think making that change in our lives is one of the biggest internal transitions we can make. And I trust that God has continued to reveal to you how much He loves you and how He sees you, whether you’re working outside the home or nurturing hearts within it. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

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  6. God is enough! That hit me right between the eyes. I have had periods of life where I have sought fulfillment in accolades from others through my teaching or other activities I was involved in. It felt good to know I was doing a “good job”. But that is never enough and it never fully satisfies like God does.

    God, first and foremost, provides all we need and satisfies the deepest parts of our being. God is enough. Beautiful lesson in striving for humility and relying on God.

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    • Yes, Mary, I have sought accolades and identity in many other places beyond 1) who God says I am and 2) in Him. When we come to the place where we know He’s enough? That’s where I’ve found the greatest rest and confidence. Thank you for sharing a bit of your own journey, my friend. 🙂

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  7. Jeanne, I think I had my first “identity crisis” when I quit my newspaper job to do … nothing. My husband and I were trying to get pregnant at the time, and my whole life was a huge ball of stress. I went to work part-time for a magazine a few months later, but in the interim, I had to get used to being label-less for awhile. I don’t think I really started understanding what it meant that God is enough until many years later, though, when I was floundering my way through early menopause. That was such a dry, intense season and I struggled to accept why it had to happen to me. Now, I’m thankful for the lessons, but yeah … it was, as you say, a “step-by-step process.” By the way, I also understand the feelings that come when you’ve waited for a baby for so long and then, once you finally become a mom, you find yourself grieving the loss of the way things used to be–at least for a time. Nobody ever said all this was going to be uncomplicated, did they? 🙂

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    • Lois, I got married, quit my job and moved twice within the first six months of marriage. And when we moved to Alabama (where my husband was stationed to attend a school), I fell into a mild depression. I had no job. No friends and no seeming purpose. That alone time can feel so hard but can also be so revealing, can’t it?

      I’ve come to believe it is good and healthy to grieve what we’ve lost as God brings us into a new phase (as in from no children to baby-in-the-home). We know we’re incredibly blessed, but it’s a huge transition, isn’t it? I didn’t know how to put that in the pose in a way that fit. But you’re right. It’s a huge ball of mixed up feelings.

      Un-com-plic-at-ed…what’s that? 😉

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  8. Yes, it is feeing when we are rooted in our identity in Christ! I know I have to constantly check in that I am not seeking approval from others so I am free to truly love unconditionally. I am a work in progress!

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    • Lynn, that feeling when our identities are rooted in Christ is amazing peace, isn’t it? I have found that I, too, have to re-evaluate where I am from time to time. I’ve caught myself slipping back into the place of finding my identity in accomplishments rather than in Jesus. He still reminds me that He is enough. 🙂

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  9. jeanne- Yes, and Amen – God is more than enough and HE is where our identities come from. I have found that in the different seasons of my life that He has to remind me of this. My identities isn’t in what I do or don’t do, its in BEING His. Love this post and reminder. So, so good. I found you at #TestimonyTuesday and we are neighbors at #RARALikup too

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    • Debbie, God’s had to remind me about finding my identity in Him as I’ve walked through different life seasons too. You’re spot on. Our identities aren’t found in what we do, but in Whose we are. I’m so glad you stopped by. It’s nice to “meet” you!

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  10. Thank you for sharing such an honest, insightful post that prompts us to search our hearts, Jeanne. I need to constantly remind myself my identity is in God and I am enough in Him, because my mind still sometimes swings into the auto-pilot mode of feeling “not enough” and seeking value and affirmation from others. I’m a work-in-progress, but God is ever so patient with me. I love this! – “Our identity is not found in what we are, but in Whose we are.” Amen! Love and hugs to you!

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    • Trudy, I’ve found it takes an intentional undoing of those auto-pilot modes. We’re re-training ourselves to remember the truth about how God views us, aren’t we? I’ve had to (and sometimes still) work through that process. I am so thankful God doesn’t change the way He thinks of us. He helps us to come to see ourselves as He sees us: treasured. So thankful for you, friend!

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  11. Visiting you from testimonytuesday. I too remember those months after I had my firstborn and was no longer working in my full time management position . I remember thinking one day as I was folding laundry with him on the bed next to how I was banking on and on to someone who couldn’t talk back…suddenly I realized how much life and connection with other had changed.

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    • It’s true, Naomi, connections with others do change when a woman goes home to be with her baby. We have to be so much more intentional about connecting with other women, don’t we? Thanks for sharing a bit of your story here today. 🙂

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  12. I relate well to your beautiful words, Jeanne. Now God is teaching me He is more than enough to comfort me as I miss the first son to move into his own place. Keep hugging those boys while they’re close at hand, dear friend. I don’t regret my years as a stay-at-home mom. Not a bit. God is good.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • I don’t look forward to the days my boys move out on their own. They make me laugh (and groan) with their silliness and boy noises. They make me smile big as they share things in their days. They make my heart swell when they confide in me. I love being their mom. I’m not looking forward to the changes. I’ll say a prayer for you as you navigate this transition, Wendy Hugs, sweet friend.

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