Archive for February, 2013

True Identity

This afternoon I spent some time with one of my students. I’ll call her Ruth.

I wanted to get to know her better and asked her to “tell me her story.”

This young woman had been adopted from an Eastern European county when she was 7 years old. She told me of the broken memories before her adoption, of her father who used to drink a lot and fight with her mom. On one of those fights his anger turned on her. He broke her arm.

From the hospital Ruth was sent to an orphanage where she was horribly treated. Children who misbehaved were made to sit in a pile of salt all night, burning their tender skin. She endured many nights of this. As a punishment for bedwetting a picture of a monster was placed over her bed. This monster, she was told, would attack her if she wet the bed again. She told me she still wakes from nightmares of this image. However, of all the mistreatments, the one Ruth recalls that affects her to this day was when the teacher used to put “sad faces” on her math papers when she made mistakes.

“Everyone else got happy faces. I got sad faces…. I think that is why I am so bad at Math today.”

I felt impressed to tell her something that had happened to me when I was about her age.

One day when I was in Jr. High I was riding home from school on the bus. I was an incredibly “awkward” girl. Legally blind without corrective lenses, my glasses were thick and heavy. I had a front tooth chipped in half from a childhood accident. I was taller than every girl in my class and almost every boy.

I sat alone at the back of the bus. One day when the bus stopped in front of my house I was making my way to the front when the boys started mocking me,

“Look out, here comes the toad! If she touches you, you’ll get a wart; look out, don’t let her touch you!”

Each boy jeered and laughed at me as I walked for what seemed an eternity to the front of the bus. My mom happened to be waiting for me that day when I got off of the bus crying. She asked what was wrong. When I told her, to my shock, she just took off running after the bus. It was a good quarter mile down the road by this time, but she ran like crazy after it and made the driver stop and then she climbed onto that bus. To this day I have no idea what she said to those boys, but they never made fun of me again.

I told my young friend Ruth:

What those boys said about me did not establish my identity.

What my mom did, now that proved my identity.

I was worth it. I was worth running down a country road and commandeering a school bus.

I was worth facing off a bunch of foolish teenage boys. I was worth protecting.

I was loved.”

I told Ruth that all the horrid, evil things that had been said and done to her did not establish her identity. When her adoptive parents, at great expense, flew half way around the world to find her, and chose her, brought her home and called her daughter, THAT established her identity.

She was worth it. She was sought after. She was greatly desired.

She was loved.

What do we allow to establish our identities?

…what others have said to us or about us?

…how we have made someone proud…or not?

…how beautiful we are, or useful we are, or impressive we are?

Or do we find our value in the fact that Someone, with great expense to His own person, left His home to run down the enemy, climbed onto this planet, stared him in the face and said “this one is Mine!”

That He sought us and found us, chose us and brought us to His home and called us “daughter.”

That He loved us.


Now that — THAT is our true identity.


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