Saturday, March 5, 2011

Titles, Uniforms and Roles

I can’t help it.  I come upon it naturally.  It started when I was in elementary school when mom signed me up for Brownies, the forerunner of The Girl Scouts. 

I was so proud to be a Brownie.  One day a week I got to wear that special uniform that gave me significance.  I didn’t know that word back then, but I knew the feeling and I liked it.  After a few years I promoted into Girl Scouts.  This time my uniform was green.  The very best part of the uniform was the sash that I wore over it.  It draped from my shoulder down to the opposite hip.  It advertised the troop that I was a part of.  But the very best thing about it was it advertised all the badges I had earned.  Each one carefully sewn on by mom, let my friends know all my achievements.  I felt important.

I clearly remember pouring over the Girl Scout Handbook and reading the requirements for each badge.  I chose which ones I would work on by how fast I could accomplish the tasks.  It had nothing to do with learning or interest; it had everything to do with earning another badge that would announce to my world that I had accomplished something.  It was an identity for me.

The pattern continued into high school.  Now I was no longer a Girl Scout, so I needed another identity.  I tried out for the Color Guard.  They had impressive uniforms.  Marching on the wrong foot during the try-outs however guaranteed I would never be a Color Guard!  L

In college, it was sorority.  My mom had been in a sorority during her college years and that seemed like a good thing.  Again, it would provide an identity for me.  On our campus, all the sororities had uniforms that the members wore ~ even better.  Although I must admit the tan blazer and skirt didn’t do a lot for me!

It was during college that I also realized that being a Christian was more than my religion, it was a relationship with God.  I responded to that and began to grow in that relationship.  Soon that relationship became more important to me than sorority and I went inactive after only a year.  That was a huge step for me to give up that very visible identity.  But it didn’t change my desire for others to know I was important.

After college, uniforms were no longer a part of my life.  But the desire for significance was.  I longed for an identity that communicated I had value.  It became roles and titles.  Bible Study Leader or Women’s Bible Study Director seemed to fit who I was.  And I had lots of opportunities.  I also quickly moved up the ranks in my part-time job with Longaberger. 

But no matter how many uniforms I wore, or titles I had, it was never enough.  They never satisfied.  As I’ve pondered this I’ve realized that what I was craving was feeling valued and having influence.  What I thought communicated these things were actually doing just the opposite!  They were masks that were covering up the real me, the me God created. 

My two desires were good desires.  God gave them to me.  But I was looking to fulfill them in all the wrong ways.  God wants me to know my value.  God wants me to be an influencer.  These days I’m hearing God say to me, “Sue, you have good desires; after-all I gave them to you.  Let me fulfill them for you and work them out on your behalf”.  I’m learning.  Influence is living out who God created me to be and that’s where my significance needs are met. 

“God not only loves you very much …He has His hand on you for something special.  Something happened in you … your life is echoing the Master’s Words”.  From I Thessalonians, The Message.  And where the title of my blog, Echoes of Grace, comes from.

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