How Do You Define Who You Are?

It's the first thing we say about ourselves when we meet someone. It's the words we use to describe people to other people. It's what we put in our Twitter bios, our resumes, at the top of our blogs.

They are the things that define us. And they're usually just that: things.

I spent my weekend surrounded by 600+ women at a gathering called "un/defined." And all weekend, as women shared their stories, as we united in worship and grew in understanding through the teachings, I thought about what defines me.


Is it my job title? My blog? My status as a JMU alum? Where I was born, where I moved, where I live now? Is it the work I do, the writing I share with the world? Is it my talents or my areas of weakness?

I imagine you're thinking along the same lines for yourself, too.

A question was posed to us this weekend: At the end of your life, what word would you want to have defined your life?

One word. My whole life. My whole being, whole character, whole sum of work, whole personality, whole group of passions, summed up into one word. What would that word be? 

I challenge you as well to think of one word, and to write it down and keep it. One word.

It isn't easy. Most of us would rather have a list of words. At the end of our lives, we want to look back and see successes, love, beautiful relationships, times we traveled, moments where we achieved goals, we want to see all the things we accomplished. We want a whole list of words, so in case one fails or a few go up in smoke, we have others we can rely on.

It isn't easy to put all of you, all your life, your hopes, your dreams into one thing.

It isn't easy to put it all into one word, and it isn't easy giving it all to our Creator, either. Nobody ever said it would be. 

We're human, and we love having things to cling to. We love that we can call ourselves "twentysomethings" and skirt around having to identify as a real, full adult. We love that we can call ourselves our job titles as if to prove that those roles mean we've made something of ourselves. We love to promote our successes-- marathoner, author, artist, med school student, tournament winning athlete-- to show that we haven't just been lazy, we've done something worthy of praise.

But those things are still just things. Take away your legs, and you're no longer a runner of marathons. Your company goes bankrupt, and your job title no longer matters. 

Put your identity in Him, and you have a foundation to ground you through every wild storm, every shake of the earth, every bump in the road.

When we define ourselves with things of this world, we cheapen our identities. When we define ourselves as He defines us, we come alive into a fullness and beauty beyond imagination.

When you are the daughter of the one true King, why would you choose to define yourself as just a normal girl? When you are His beloved, His chosen possession, why only see yourself as average, not that exciting, just a chill dude who likes to have fun?

We are more than the things we use to define us. We are His. We are chosen, beloved, redeemed, set apart. We are clay in the hands of a gifted, glorious Potter. 

At the end of your life, when you look back on it all, whatever word you've identified as your hope for your life, know that you are His, and you will be made into more than you could ever have asked for or imagined.

I would love to hear what words you chose-- share them in the comments below! My word was "passion," by the way.


(This post first appeared on

StoriesRachel Dawson