Tell Them Who They Are

My youngest son had his first soccer practice of the new season yesterday. He’s been asking for weeks when they would begin – eager, excited. Then the day came and he rolled out of bed and asked why he had to go to practice that night. Now that it was here he was sorting through the nerf wars and friends he would miss after school (and likely the additional listening and rule-following that would be required of him).

I replied, “You have to go because you’re an athlete.”

He smiled. He stood up tall. (And then he ate his frozen waffles and went to school.)

We need to be told, and reminded, who we are. In our minds, we quickly reduce ourselves to the things we do and the things we’ve accomplished (or not accomplished), and so we need other people to tell us who we are.

Identity speaks to meaning, purpose, and belonging. Having a name and hearing people use it makes us stand a little straighter and even a little prouder. I remember the early days of dating my husband, and every time he would say my name, I felt different. I felt seen and adored and admired in a whole new way. When my dad calls me by the nickname he gave me at birth, I remember my history and I feel grounded.

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and in the most devastating way possible, my twitter feed was filled with the cries of mourning over the death of Jarrid Wilson who had died by suicide the night before. Jarrid was a pastor, a husband, a dad, a friend, a promoter of hope, an advocate for mental health, and the founder of a non-profit called “Anthem of Hope,” providing help to people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

For just a moment, the darkness won and he forgot who he was.

At any given moment, the people around us are fighting hard battles and it can be difficult in the midst of battle to remember who we are and why we fight, why we show up, why we go to practice. We have the power in every moment to help someone else remember…to actually speak life.

Today, tell the people in your life you love them, but also tell them they are loved. They are beloved. They matter. They are seen. They are part of the family. They are a child of the King. They are inheritors of a treasure that cannot be taken away. They are forgiven and they are beautiful, even in brokenness.

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