An important lesson in identity

Thanks a lot, everybody. 

Every single I-dropped-my-child-off-at-college-and-now-I’m-a-weepy-mess photo has reminded me that next year it’s my turn.

Now, mainly I’m on Team Excitement! After all, this is such a full-of-energy time of life, and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my oldest. 

I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t fess up to being on Team Panic too. Besides the fact that we will miss her deeply when she leaves; there are still so many things we need to teach her before she’s on her own—and so little time to do it!

You don’t have to be preparing to drop your kiddo off at college to feel this way though. Parents who sent their Pre-K kids off for the first time this year know these two teams well. Excitement for all the fun they will have, and panic if they will make friends or remember their manners. 

Every time I’m prone to panic, though, I remind myself that I don’t have to teach my children all the lessons, but I do need to teach them one very important lesson—and it’s a lesson in identity. Want to join me in focusing on this lesson this year?

Your identity is not based on performance or your relationships or your appearance. Your identity comes from Jesus.

By living a perfect life for them and taking God’s punishment away from them, Jesus earned the right for our children to be in God’s family. God loves our children not because of what they do but simply because they are his. (That’s the same reason he loves you, by the way.)

God doesn’t love them more if academics and sports and music and art come easy to them. That’s simply a specific blessing from him, and they get to give him the glory. 

If they struggle with school or come in last or squeak all the way through music lessons, God doesn’t love them less. He is simply giving them an opportunity to give him the glory for the lessons learned through hard times.

This is not an identity that will come naturally to them, so we need to send this message over and over. We whisper it in their ears when they’re disappointed, and we redirect them when they might be self-focused. 

Obviously, we still have the responsibility to teach our kids social skills and manners and hard work and responsibility. After all, we want them to grow up to be contributing members of society who don’t live in our basements. Still, our primary responsibility is to tell them who Jesus is, so they have an accurate picture of who (and whose) they are.

P.S. About three hours after I submitted this post, I saw my son’s homework folder. There, front and center, was a reminder that his eighth-grade teacher handed out at the start of school and told the students to put where they’d see it often. I think we should all do this. It reads:

I have great worth apart from my performance, my appearance, and other people’s opinion of me, because Christ gave his life for me and thereby imparted great value to me. . . . I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ.

Linda Buxa is a writer and editor. One of the lessons she still needs to teach her daughter is how to be street smart. After all, living in the country for the past five years means the family’s a little weak in this area. A “highly official” Instagram poll confirms this: 88% of her daughter’s friends believe that Linda has more “Street Cred” than her teenager.


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