Made for More
Over the course of our marriage, my husband and I have moved eight times. I never minded changing locations so much as filling out all the paperwork that comes with it. I avoid it as long as possible, but inevitably, I have to enroll my kids in a new school or end up at the doctor’s office. The secretary behind the desk will chat politely with me; but then when my defenses are down, she’ll hand me the Clipboard of Doom and sweetly say: “Please fill out these forms.”
What she really means is “Please fill out this ream of paper and reduce your life and immortal existence to the following definable categories.”
Gender. Race. Age. Relationship Status. Children. Education. Occupation. Income.
The boxes and blanks will come at me like a whirlwind. What are the answers? What’s my Social Security number? Should I put my maiden name or married name? I’m a stay-at-home mom—does that mean I have an occupation or not? Arrgh, I am so much more than this!
To be fair, the doctor’s office is not the only place we reduce our lives to a list of categories. We often do this unconsciously. We put ourselves and each other into boxes so we can get a sense of who we are and where we belong in the world. Think about how you introduce yourself when you meet someone new: “Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m a wife, mother, and writer. I live in Virginia and like to read books, travel, and…”
This tendency to categorize ourselves isn’t wrong, but it is limiting. Categories aren’t large enough to contain any of us. And when we force ourselves into them—when we think of ourselves primarily in terms of our jobs, relationships, or gender—our souls can feel crowded and small. Like you’re trying to cram it into a box the size of a checkmark.
The Scripture tells us that God ordains the details of our lives. He chose to make you a certain gender and give you a certain job. But underneath those details, He has a larger purpose for your life. You have an identity and calling that goes beyond whether you are a writer or teacher or accountant or social worker.
When God created you, He made you in His own image. This means many things, but the most important is that you are called to reflect His glory. You are made to look like Him and do what He does. All of these other categories only have significance as they fulfill this greater purpose.
This also means that your worth cannot be measured by how much money you make or the letters behind (or in front of) your name. Your life has meaning and purpose, not because of what you achieve, but because God stamped His glory on you. And all of your life, everything about you, is working to this end. You were made to reflect God. You were made to testify to His greatness. You were made for more.
Hannah Anderson lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of Made for More and the newly released Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul (Moody). You can find more of her writing at sometimesalight.com, hear her on the weekly podcast Persuasion, or follow her on Twitter @sometimesalight.