Welcome to Songs of Salvation!
Join Christian authors as they share their "Songs of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Revelation 12:11 NLT
Who do you think you are? And who gets to decide?
by Stacy Monson
A two-part sermon I heard a number of years ago has stayed firmly in my mind. The basis of the sermons was two questions – Who do you think you are? followed by Who gets to decide? I think the initial question struck me because it’s something I’ve wrestled with my whole life. Who am I? Why don’t I measure up? Why aren’t I more like so-and-so? Why does it seem everyone else is smarter/faster/prettier/more talented/fill-in-the-blank than me? Can you say low self-esteem?
It was hearing the second sermon that sent me on a journey. Who gets to decide? Wait – what? Isn’t it already decided by my genes, my upbringing, my choices? I’d never given thought to the idea that we might, without even realizing it, allow outside forces to decide for us. I spent the next several years pondering those questions—who I thought I was, why I thought that, and how that came about. I uncovered lies I’d accepted as truth; careless words spoken over me that changed how I saw myself the way a fun house mirror distorts our appearance. God slowly revealed how I’d allowed pretty much anyone and anything to define who I became, except for Him.
I’m an author, five books published to date. And you know what I’ve realized about every single book? They’re about identity. All of my characters are on journeys of self-discovery—some by choice, some forced into it by circumstances. And all of them eventually come to the same conclusion I did when answering the question of who gets to decide: they are, first and foremost, a child of God. Everything else pales in comparison. And that changes those imaginary lives the same way it changed mine.
I was raised with my three siblings by a single mom whose mother also lived with us. I didn’t know anyone else with divorced parents. Our dad wasn’t mean or abusive, but he was absent pretty much my whole life. He was an alcoholic, but since he was rarely home (perhaps one day out of seven as a traveling salesman), we didn’t grow up in an “alcoholic family.” There was plenty of chaos in our home with four kids and a mother who worked full-time and put herself through six years of college, but I always knew our mom loved us more than life.
What I never knew was why our dad wanted so little to do with us. Though he lived a mere six blocks away as the crow flies, he was busy with a new wife, helping raise her three kids (who were about the same ages as his actual children). We saw him approximately four times a year—around someone’s birthday and at Christmas. He never took us out to eat or came to our games or concerts. We never, ever stayed overnight with him, or even spent a whole day with him. He was just a pleasant stranger we had to spend time with very occasionally.
I didn’t know that relationship, or lack thereof, was forming my identity as well as how I viewed God. We were involved in our church growing up—my mom was a “church basement lady” and I spent hours playing in the church building. I’ve always felt most at home in a church. Any church. I never questioned whether there was a God or not. I’ve always known He exists. But even long into adulthood I wondered whether He actually cared about me. My dad had modeled disinterest, abandonment, neglect, so that’s what I figured God was like—a somewhat friendly God who might have time for me once in a while but wasn’t terribly interested in my life.
I never believed I could count on Him, trust Him, or bring my troubles to Him. And that defined how I saw myself. Unimportant, not cherished or worth protecting. Good enough as long as I stayed out of trouble and didn’t ask for much.
It wasn’t until my mother died of Alzheimer’s, about the same time I heard those sermons, that I realized just how angry I was at my dad for having never been there for our mother or us kids. And I was angry at God for pretty much the same reason. I’d never gotten to a point of trusting God because I’d never been able to trust my dad. I didn’t believe what Scripture said was true for me. I wasn’t worth His time or attention.
Then those sermons happened and, along with some counseling sessions, He slowly released my anger and hurt, the way we might let air out of a balloon. And when I was finally able to uncross my arms and unclench my fists, I began to accept that I truly am worthwhile, cherished, loved. Worth dying for.
Our true identity has nothing to do with our parents or friends, our job, our dress size, or what neighborhood we live in. It comes only from the One who created us, the One who knows us intimately (yes, the good, the bad and the ugly) and gave His life for ours. Only when we accept that we are indeed the chosen and beloved of God (through nothing we’ve done to earn or deserve it) will we understand who we are. Our identity lies in Him. I had to stop looking around me for confirmation from a broken world and people and look up. When I did that, I was finally able to understand that it was never my relationship with my dad (or lack thereof) that defined me. God does.
So look up, dear friend. Open your heart to the God who created you, loves you, and longs to fulfill your every need. Cling to the truth that you are a child of God no matter what your circumstances are, or what others have to say about you.
Who do you think you are? You can know you’re a child of the Most High God.
Who gets to decide? The One who loves you just as you are.
Father, this broken, sinful world tries to tell us who we are, how we should act, what we should eat, drink, say, wear, and believe. But you created us for so much more. If you care about the sparrow, how much more do you care about us? Help us to let that truth sink into our thirsty souls. Close our ears to the lies shouted at us through media, whispered to us in the dark of a sleepless night, and stated as fact by those who say they know best. Open our hearts to receive your truth – that we are your children, holy and beloved, no matter what the world says. Let your truth be ours and show us how to speak that truth over others. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen