Recently I had the opportunity to reconnect with my ninth grade English teacher, who to this day, is one of my favorite teachers. It was delightful sitting down with her over a cup of tea, listening to her stories and reminiscing about projects we did in her classroom.
One of the things I will always remember doing in Mrs. Hanzel’s class is writing a poem titled, I Am. There were prompts for things such as, “I see…I wonder…I pretend…” and we had to fill in the blanks to complete the sentence. I loved projects like these, where I got to think deeply and express my true self, especially in a time of life when I was trying to figure out who I was and cared too much about fitting in.
This poem is one of the things I have saved from my high school years, and though some of the things I wrote then don’t apply anymore, several of them still ring true. I can’t help but think that the same would be true for all of us.
Certainly, there are things about us that change over time, and areas where we all need to grow, but there are also parts of each of us that are intrinsic to who we are and things that make our heart sing. These are important things to pay attention to, and hold close, especially when there is constant pressure from many places trying to tell us who we are and what we should do. It’s not easy to navigate through all these expectations if we don’t know who we are and to whom we belong.
Because of this reality, it’s important to hold onto the truth that we are created and loved by God and to remember that this is one of those things that doesn’t change about us through our life. I’m reminded of this when I read Psalm 139- “It was you who created my inmost parts; I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
This truth is reiterated to us in our baptism, when we are given the name child of God. It’s a name that can never be taken away from us, and in a society where our worth seems forever up for grabs based on who we know and what we do, this is good news for all of us.
The fact that we are created and loved by God- a promise that is not dependent on how well or how much we do- is freeing as much as it is comforting. Knowing who we are in Christ allows us to try new things without worrying about what happens if we fail. It allows us to keep growing and learning, not having to be afraid of change or what people might say if we don’t do something the way we have always done it. And it allows us to show ourselves- and others- grace and compassion when we or they don’t live up to our expectations. Today, I invite you to spend some time with God, reflecting on how you would answer the prompts in an I Am poem. How might you answer the sentence, “I wonder…I dream…I understand…?” Then, I invite you to sit in that stillness a bit longer, and to remember that, in Christ, you are forgiven; you are loved; you are a child of God.