Blog Post by: Ashlee Meier
The past twelve months have been a lot of things. Scary, overwhelming, exhausting… and, well, a touch confusing. With so much everyday “normal” put on pause, many have found what they thought were strong foundations, faltering. Perhaps you’ve even noticed yourself stutter over something as simple as a Zoom conversation when asked for a snapshot introduction of who you are.
I have to confess, for a time in my life, situations and questions like that used to terrify me. Not that I’m unsure of myself, or that I can’t rattle off bullet points that some would say define the answer, but I was often left wondering… is that it?
Sure, it’s easy to start with, “Hi, I’m <insert name here>….” but then your relationship status shifts, and the name you’ve said your whole life changes, and you stumble over the words and the feeling your lips make when you say your new name. Even months or years in, you randomly respond with your former name and shake your head.
Then you follow up with, “… and I’m a <insert job title, chosen career, employer, passionate hobby, parenting role, etc.>” But of course, that role changes, too. Sometimes frequently, sometimes years in between, sometimes one replacing the other and often adding a new role in the mix. In the last year, this component has shifted even more dramatically than usual as job loss or furlough struck, many parents became teachers, caregiving took on a whole new meaning, and hobbies and activities that used to define us were stripped away.
So, if the very first pieces of my go to intro are subject to change, IS that who I am? Is it who I am right now? This moment? This phase of life? The pandemic version? Is that what people really want to know when they ask that question? My gut reaction, “No way, I am SO much more than that.” And let me tell you a little secret, friends…. so are you.
A few years ago, I met a dear friend for a happy hour that I will never forget. You know those friends who you can be your realest, rawest self with, and they love you regardless? She is one of those. We hadn’t been together in a while and had both been in uprooting seasons of change and struggle, so we had loads to catch up on.
Happy hour turned into happy FOUR hours (remember those days? Sighhh). We shared our junk, we laughed, we cried, we prayed, we encouraged each other, and discovered that we were both in a place where the foundations of “who are you” were being shaken or shattered, much like many are currently experiencing.
So, we explored that question a little differently. We talked through the core of our personalities. We talked through the unique pieces of our lives that stand out. We talked through the way we impact people around us, what we often bring to the table. We talked through what people might remember when they interact with us. And that conversation brought us to the thought of new “names.” Musicians, artists and actors often choose a more appealing stage name. We see many biblical references to emerging after trials with a name change. So, what about everyday us? Why can’t we elect for new “name?”
This concept had been on my friend’s mind for a while, and she shared what that meant for her. Her new name rang confidently from her lips: Victorious.
Wow. Roll that around in your mind for a moment and think about THAT answer to, “who are you?” I couldn’t wait to land on mine, but knew it was something I couldn’t randomly choose. I reflected, I journaled, I prayed… and I waited.
And then it hit me like a ton of exciting bricks: Champion of Joy.
…and then I immediately exploded in laughter thinking about ACTUALLY calling myself that. Like, no way that grand and moderately silly title was meant for me. What does that even mean?! But I kept hearing it, seeing it, and I knew that indeed, it was.
And do you know what? It’s changed EVERYTHING for me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Champion of Joy is who I am, and I try to live it every moment. It’s a role I can carry with me in any relationship (marriage, friends, business), through any job title or career change, into my new role as a mother, into any conversation, interaction and moment, I can choose to exude joy and try to bring it to those around me. It’s my unique purpose in life and I plan to own that until my final day.
Some days I get it right. Other days I fail, over and over again. But I know that doesn’t change it. It doesn’t change me, even in moments I struggle to find joy or when it comes more easily. Champion of Joy is who I am and who I will always be, and days when I struggle the most, that simple truth brings light. And I’ve needed to cling to that truth to find a sliver of light in the many dark days we’ve recently faced.
Friends, I encourage you to take a fresh look at “who you are.” I challenge you to spend some time in reflection/prayer/meditation/fellowship and consider your name as a core truth about your unique self. Once you have it, or if you’ve already known it, I would love for you to share it with me. I want to get to know you, celebrate you, and maybe help remind you on days you forget.