I’m honored to be able to go to a local high school once a month to talk with teen moms. When I did this recently, about 10 moms came to our support group in the midst of their school day. When we broke for lunch, only four came back after getting their food.
Before, I would have been hurt by this, thinking I should have done something different–mentored differently–to engage them better. In truth, I was asking hard questions. I wanted them to really think about the choices they were making in their lives. Out of the four who returned, three of the young women engaged with me, eyes focused on mine, and really dug deep.
What did I learn of these three? They had all lost parents or close relatives in recent years. Their parents were teen parents. Their grandparents were teen parents. They had half-siblings and a variety of fragmented relationships within their homes. These girls’ parents had wanted their children’s lives to turn out differently, but here they were teen parents, too. They felt part of a cycle, but each voiced their desire to break free. (Amazing revelations in one hour’s time.)
We talked about their identity. Who tells you who you are? Are “you” the total of your parents’ mistakes, your own foolish choices, or even your child’s successes? Who do you believe yourself to be when you look in the mirror?
I shared a bit of my story of being a teen mom, and who I thought I was then. A mess up. A failure. A shame. I told them I had plans for my life after having my baby. I hoped I’d be able to struggle by as a single mom–but God had bigger plans.
I wish I could have taken a photo of the looks on their faces the moment I told them, “You can achieve more in your life than you ever dreamed possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.” Hope twinkled and flashed across teen faces. Hope was visible. Tangible.
As a mom–a woman–what is your identity? Who do you believe yourself to be? Are you the sum of your parents’ mistakes, or of your mistakes? Do you parent your children with diligence hoping that their success will give value to your life? To prove your worth?
Pause for a minute and focus on the words to come. I have a message for you, today:
You have plans for your life, but God’s plans are bigger.
God’s thoughts for you are greater than the sand on the sea shore.
No matter what you’ve done that you regret, today is a new day. You can make different choices.
The past is gone–your grandparents’ past, your parents’ past, your past.
This moment is one to embrace, enjoy, and celebrate. This moment is all you have. It really is.
See your identity as God sees it and walk in that.