Ever stop to ponder the answer to the question posed in the song lyrics for "Who Are You?," the title track on The Who's 1978 album?
I was forced to confront this question when drafting a cover letter for a proposed article I was submitting to a magazine. The publication required my submission be accompanied by a letter explaining to the editors who I was. The obvious answer—"author of the article being submitted"—was not a sufficient explanation.
I struggled to compose the requested letter. How could I best describe who I am? Do I indicate where I live? My educational accomplishments? The honors and awards I have received? The writings I have previously had published? What does all that information reveal about the real me? Will an editor know who I am simply by reading this compilation of facts about me? He will know about me, but I doubt he will know who I truly am.
People tend to confuse the question "Who are you?" with "What do you do?" Describing your occupation, for example, reveals something about you, but it does not address who you are. Knowing I am an attorney gives you an idea of my educational level, but it reveals little about the real me, the person those close to me know and love.
For many women, identity, who they are, is inextricably tied to what they have accomplished. In describing who they are, these women may tell you that they have raised X number of children, chaired X number of charitable events and received X number of community service awards. But what they have done is not who these women are. Their identity and self-worth are mistakenly connected to their accomplishments.
According to the world's view, the more you have accomplished, the more of an identity and worth you have. We Christian women tend to get caught in this trap. We go through life as if we are writing a cover letter describing who we are for those around us to read. We tell others we have served as volunteers, Sunday school teachers, mentors and so on. Our identity and self-worth, at least in our minds, are tied to what we have done or are doing. This works mentality is simply wrong.
The bottom line for Christian women is that we are focusing on and answering the wrong question on an ongoing basis. The ultimate question is not what we have done or what we are doing. The question is not who we are either. The critical question is whose we are.
If we sent a cover letter to God, do you think He would be impressed by how many volunteer projects we are juggling? By how many years we have taught children's church? No! His focus is on who is writing the descriptive letter—you, His child, i.e., whose you are.
Actually, we do not have to tell God who we are. He already knows. In fact, He has known us from the very beginning. He is our Creator. As Psalm 139:13 tells us, He knit us together in our mothers' wombs and created our inmost beings. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are children of God (John 1:12, Gal. 3:26). And as God's children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom.8:17a). We are children upon whom the Father has lavished great love (1 John 3:1a). Our worth and identity in His eyes are based merely on our relationship to Him; in other words, we are His children.
Every day of our lives, Christian women are writing a cover letter. We tell those around us who we are through our words and actions. As 2 Corinthians 3:3 notes, Christians are letters from Christ. Therefore, our living cover letters should reflect God's love and what Christ has done for us. They need to point others toward God and not merely recite our own accomplishments. The goal is for our living cover letters to make clear who we are: We are daughters of our heavenly Father; we are His.
Alice H. Murray is an adoption attorney by profession and a writer by passion. She has had pieces published in the compilation works Short And Sweet and Short And Sweet Too (available on Amazon) and is the author of articles appearing in various newspapers and magazines. Visit her blog at aliceinwonderingland.wordpress.com.
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