Why You Need to Know Who You Are

On the second day of spring it snows a flurry of feathery flakes—the sun sifts through their light fall off and on all day. I walk down the halls of that hospital where I work, past the corridor of windows, and feel the cold seep into unknown places. I’ve been doing this thing I do for over twenty years now—sometimes in different places, rubbing shoulders with different people—but on the second day of spring, twenty years feels like a long, long time.
Someone tried to name me something that I know I am not, and I laughed and told the team that after all these years—after all these years, I count myself lucky that this is the first time I’ve been labeled the ugly. But the truth is—it hurts. And I feel the struggle inside of me not to become what I’ve been unfairly named. I feel the ugly fight to show itself. And I see how easy it must be to become the names that others give.
Haven’t we all been labeled something?
Insensitive, uncaring, stupid, boring, ugly, addict, depressed, dysfunctional, lazy, loose…
How do we keep from becoming the names that others give to us?
You have to know who you are, I tell my boys, as we drive to their music lessons at night. We are talking about Steubenville, about right and wrong, about belonging to Jesus and seeing his image in others. It’s a hard conversation but when I say these words to them, I feel my own voice prick my heart.
You have to know who you are.
When I know who I am, the names others give me don’t stick. I am free to do what I know is right and love that person…no matter. When I know who I am.
I listen to my own voice say these things to my sons and I remember something I read recently in Richard Foster’s book, Prayer—about Thérèse of Lisieux. How she lived a prayer that helps when one is wrongly named.

“This Little Way, as she called it, is deceptively simple. It is, in short, to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticisms, to befriend those who annoy us, to help those who are ungrateful. For her part, Thérèse was convinced that these ‘trifles’ pleased Jesus more than the great deeds of recognized holiness…”

To live this ministry of small things, I must know who I am. Know that I am loved—that I have a true name.
And knowing this makes me careful about what name I call others. It is love that leads me to look deeper into faces for their true name.
With the beautiful Emily today:

And dear, dear Jennifer:


  1. Leanne says

    A beautiful post … I’m glad I found you via Jennifer. Just one question. What does a white stone have to do with my true name? I’m not following that…

  2. says

    Hi, Leanne, I’m glad to meet you here. The white stone is a reference to the Revelation scripture (2:17) that I link to in that second to last paragraph. It’s one of my favorite scriptures–full of mystery–that affirms we all will be given a new name by God one day. Just as Biblical names are often used to name the true character of a person, I believe that’s what this name will do for us. Isn’t that an amazing thought?

  3. Nancy Sturm says

    I’m sorry you were hurt, but so grateful you know who you are and could overcome that hurt with love. What a beautiful post! Thanks!

  4. Marybeth Thielke says

    Wow- this is amazing. It is so easy for me think of myself as what others define me as. But doing the ministry of small things- yes, you must know exactly who you are. Exactly who Jesus breathed you to be. Thank you for this. Your words are right here, right in my heart.

  5. says

    amen. it’s not til we truly grasp who we are in Christ and capture how captivated we are by His love that we can simply glance at what others say about us … and then move ahead … maybe a bit shook up, but unscathed by the error of their judgement.

    always appreciate your thoughts, dear Laura, sweet online friend. your iron sharpens mine …

  6. soulstops says

    Your compassionate words drew me in…oh, yes, it is only in knowing we are His beloved can we love and not let those hurtful words stick even though they may hurt bc we are human…praying you know how loved you are, Laura 🙂

  7. Emily Wierenga says

    Oh, how this convicts me, and how it makes me hurt for you… I cannot imagine why someone would ever want to hurt you friend. But you are right. We need to brush those words off and stand strong before our Lord and ask him to remind us of who we are. Of Whose we are. And you are beautiful, dear Laura. And loved, redeemed, and a treasured friend.

  8. Marty Walden says

    Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to comment on the post I linked up last week, The Healing Hand of God. I have enjoyed so much getting to share my heart here with you and your readers and being blessed in return. Thank you.

  9. pastordt says

    So beautifully true, Laura. Yet, even when we do know who we are, the ugly still hurts. And I think maybe it should. Lies are weapons.

  10. says

    Ministry of small things, great reminder. I love Richard Foster’s book on prayer and this makes me want to get it off the shelf to reread. Thanks Laura. Isn’t it amazing how you read a post just when you need its message and you were it today. I am grateful

  11. smoothstones says

    Always such a blessing to read your words. They carry a hush with them. Grateful for you and your unique voice.

  12. says

    I’ve read that book of Foster’s many times, but it’s been awhile.

    I like this. I like what you told your boys. I’m going to think about this in terms of parenting. Might be an interesting approach.

  13. Elizabeth says

    Oh Laura this this just oozes grace. Your words here are rich and full of forgiveness and mercy. Thank you, friend.

  14. says

    This is powerful, friend. Makes me think of the children’s book my little ones beg to read- YOU ARE SPECIAL- that Max Lucado classic about the Wemmicks who try to stick dots on each other. And how those dots don’t stick if the little wooden people spend time in the presence of their Maker. I could name many names for you, but today I’ll just call you BEAUTIFUL.

  15. says

    “How do we keep from becoming the names that others give to us?” A profound question. Thank you for this refocusing post.

    My youngest sister and I are trying to learn Ephesians by heart right now. One thing I adore about that book is the way the first half focuses on who we are in Christ and what He has done for believers. Three whole chapters pass before we are given commands as to how we should live because of that. For three whole chapters Paul establishes who we are first. Even just Ephesians 1 is tremendously soul-healing when the world calls us false names (or when I call myself false names).

    Grace and peace to you in this new and holy week.

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