What's My Worth?

Jul 07, 2017

What


There has been a lot of discussion in the culture recently about what does (or doesn’t) define a woman. As Christians — both men and women — it can be hard to remember that our primary identities are not defined by our relationships or what we do, but rather by our positions as children of God. Below, three women discuss how they’ve worked to view their identities as daughters of God first and foremost.

 

The Single Woman

Alyssa Champion
Alyssa works in the Youth Department as Director of the Girls’ Lower Grades. She moved to Memphis from North Carolina in 2011 to participate in the Memphis Fellows program.

 

In what ways do you struggle to make “daughter of God” your primary identity?

The struggle is to not seek worth from the things of the world and to instead get my worth from the source. People have told me that I’m good at my job and I do think God has gifted me in ministry. But sometimes this can make me a workaholic because I’m not resting in the fact that I get my worth from being a daughter of the King and His finished work on the cross, not from my added efforts. The problem is keeping that idea forefront in my mind instead of getting sucked into how the rest of the world is operating.

 

What does the culture tell you about your identity as a single woman?

In culture there’s this idea that it’s fine to be single but most of the time they replace it with something else — like focusing on your career or self-development. They’re still not seeing the freedom in where God has me as a single woman. It’s more in the Christian circle where it feels like people are thinking “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why aren’t you with somebody?” People will often say it’s not a bad thing to be single but then follow that up with questions that communicate “But what are you doing to get out of that?”. I have to take comments like that with a grain of salt.

 

What has being single taught you about your faith?

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in singleness is that there’s always somebody else in the body of Christ who’s hurting. When I’ve been in valleys the Lord has always urged me to look around and see who needs to be loved. It takes my eyes off myself and allows me to be His hands and feet for other people. I get so much joy knowing that even though I’m hurting, I don’t have to just sulk or be miserable. I can love people out of the love that Jesus gives me.

This has also been a sweet time to pour into my relationship with Jesus. In my singleness I’ve really gotten to know Him in a way I don’t think I would have if I had been dating. It’s just been me and Jesus and though it’s been hard, it’s also been really meaningful.

 

How would you respond to the feminist movement’s idea of what it means to be a woman?

I think the feminist movement has made this inferiority/superiority between men and women that was never intended in the Bible. The Bible tells women to submit to their husbands but it also says that husbands should submit to God. It was never that one sex was less than the other but that’s how the world has twisted it. Sin distorts everything that was supposed to be good — men, women, gender, sexuality — all of it.

 

The Mother

Jennifer Wilson
Jennifer is a wife and a mother of three children  — ages 18, 15, and 9. She works in the 2PC library and co-leads A Mother’s Heart Bible study on Thursday mornings.

 

How have you dealt with the temptation to let “mother” become your primary identity?

What I’ve struggled with more than identifying as mother is identifying as good mother. For years I was consumed with wanting to be viewed that way by other people and I know I used the wrong yardsticks.

It took a couple of things to help me change this mindset. The first was just messing up so many times and seeing the negative effect my desire had on our family dynamics. The second was developing a better understanding of grace in the Gospel, which probably did more than anything else to change my parenting, my view of who God intends for us to be—my children and myself included—and how I viewed my own role in all of that. Instead of the family referee I became more of the nurturer, the cheerleader, and the discipler.

 

What does social media tell you about your identity as a mother?

I think social media is a driving factor in bad parenting — it causes us to make unhealthy comparisons and can make us feel like we should copy what “good moms” are doing without considering our own unique families. Also, we already have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and then we’re inundated with Instagram photos of best moments. We tend to forget that no one is really going to post photos of the bad things that happen at home all the time. I usually go to social media to be mindless and unplug and I very rarely walk away thinking “I’m so glad I just did that.”

 

What are the dangers you’ve seen in letting mother become primary identity?

If my #1 role is mother then I’m going to structure my whole day around my children—what they need and what they think they need. If that becomes my primary identity outside of spouse then the marriage will be weakened and in the long run the kids will suffer. Beyond that, if I let either mother or wife supercede my identity as child of the Lord then everything suffers.

 

How would you encourage women who struggle with this?

I would assume that most women who struggle with this problem aren’t deep in the Word and may instead be deep into podcasts or parenting magazines. If the sources we’re going to don’t explicitly root themselves in the Gospel and in the Word of Christ then we’re going to get solutions to symptoms but not an eternal solution to an eternal problem. So my encouragement would be, even though it seems daunting, to open Genesis 1 and just start reading. If you’ve been prayerfully reading the Scriptures, it’s hard to walk away just as self-centered and upside down as you were when you entered.

I would also say, as far as parenting goes, to not make such a big deal of it. There’s no perfect way to do it and we stress ourselves out by saying “If I don’t make this one decision the right way then my family is messed up forever.” God’s grace is way too big for that.

 

How would you respond to the feminist movement’s idea of what it means to be a woman?

I think feminists make “woman” out to be an ultimate identity. Yes, God says we’re women and yes, God says we’re created in His image and we have purpose and a place in His Kingdom and ministry. But nowhere does He say that man’s greatest identity is in being a man or woman’s greatest identity is in being a woman. All of our value and purpose points to being in His kingdom, being His children, receiving His compassion, wisdom, and discernment, and using those in His Kingdom. Who we identify as biologically was never meant to be the ultimate identity that we cling to.

 

The Career Woman 

Nancy Coe
Nancy, who earned her degree in Art History, now works as a financial advisor with Dominion Partners and is a mother of two and grandmother of six.

 

How have you dealt with the temptation to let your career define you?

For me it was a great blessing to become a Christian at a young age and be fed solid theology by my older brother who was in seminary. This helped ground me in my identity before anything like career or social life or athletics could hijack me. Because I did love all of those things though, coming from a Christian worldview and seeing everything through that lens allowed me to embrace all my interests as one complete person. They weren’t things I tacked on to my identity; it was more integrated.

 

What does culture tell you about your identity as a working woman?

Culture tells working women that we’re important because of our titles and the size of our offices. I do have a gorgeous office and because of it people automatically assume I’m valuable and important. It’s so silly because I’m the same person out sweating in my garden or out on my bike.

The Scriptures teach that man looks at the outside and God looks at the heart. We all wear masks and it takes a bit of fearlessness to live without a mask and at least try to feel that who we are is enough. That kind of confidence, based in who you know you are as a daughter of the King, is incredibly compelling and inviting to others because if you’re at ease with yourself, you put others at ease.

 

What’s a healthy way to view our work?

In one sense there’s all those Scriptures that say not to waste time on things that are temporary but to fix your eyes on things that are eternal. The world would say that it’s only your career or your accomplishments that define you, and we know that’s not true. And then you have people who say “Oh, your career’s not important, that’s worldly. It’s only your prayer life or only your worship that are important.” Both of those are wrong. As Christians, in everything we do we’re called to please God and our careers are part of that. You can spend a ton of time on your career and do incredibly well and that doesn’t mean you’re inappropriately getting your self-worth out of it. Instead, it’s because you get your identity from Christ that makes it valuable. It’s not like you have to pick one or the other.

 

How would you respond to the feminist movement’s idea of what it means to be a woman?

I think what they get wrong is the idea that a woman can be defined apart from God. Also, women cannot be defined apart from men. We are part of God’s image but man is the other part. We are not better or less than men, although being equal doesn’t mean we’re the same. There’s a way in which men and women complement each other. Together we demonstrate the full image of Christ.