How do you Define Yourself?

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I taught a lesson to the youth today in my morning seminary/Bible Study class that I really wanted to write about, too. It was based off of a scripture passage in Acts 17, where Paul is sharing about the nature of God, and emphasizing the fact that we are all children of God. Truly understanding this fact, will hopefully help us define ourselves in life, but all too often, we place value for ourselves through other means. How do you define yourself and determine your self worth?

How do you define yourself on self worth

I shared about my super sporty husband, how for a long time, he defined himself in part by the sports he played. From my perspective, he’s pretty amazing at all sports. He can pick up something for the first time and be great. It’s just a part of him, he’s talented in that way. But in the past 10 years, he’s had injury after injury that has prevented him from doing so many things.

Even when we were in Mexico, I was excited to kayak on the ocean, and he had to remind me that with his injured shoulder, he couldn’t do that. He can’t run like he’d like because of an injured achilles tendon. His profession is training people athletically, he is a disciplined person, and trains himself, takes every precaution, warms up for all exercise, yet still he’s seen injury after injury that prevents him from doing things he loves, things he’s naturally good at. It breaks my heart, but he carries it well. From the outside, people don’t really know. Friends will say, “hey, we are doing this race, want to join us?” To which is quietly passes, but silently, I know it kills him inside.

He wants to..he just can’t.

I’m grateful that despite those challenges that I know are so painful, he hasn’t let that define him. He hasn’t wallowed in self pity, or sink into a depression. He knows where his true value lies, that he is a child of God with divine potential, and he’s being shaped through the refiners fire to bring out the qualities that are most important. (Click on that link or see below to watch a powerful video about being shaped into our perfected selves through challenges).

All too often, as humans, we focus on the temporary, the things that matter NOW, and maybe not always the things that matter MOST.

Be Careful how you characterize or define yourself

 Read full article: “How to Define Yourself,” New Era, June 2013

Download printable PDF of the above quote: Be Careful

After sharing with my class about my husband, I then had them list some factual characteristics about me. They mentioned my height, my long hair, I’m a mother, wife, photographer, blogger, seminary teacher, etc. These are characteristics that define me, make up who I am. They are facts that are pretty obvious.

I then wanted to mention things that I define about myself that are challenging for me, things that are vulnerable to me. I mentioned 2 things: first, the veins on my legs (that you can only catch a tiny glimpse in the image above). My badges of honor from my precious 4 babies. It’s a genetic thing, not everyone with 4 babies suffers as I do. It’s cosmetic, but it’s also painful, those ugly/purple bulging veins on my legs. I hate them, but I can’t let them define me, take over my self worth (and not interested in elective surgery).

I then felt strongly that I needed to bring up social media. These cute teenagers that I get to spend so much time with, will often comment about my 20,000 Instagram followers. It’s what they see, they are aware, and when they bring it up to me, I have to always remind them that’s it’s a big part of my business that I’ve been building for 7 years. It’s not “normal” to have that many followers when it isn’t tied to a business. That’s my quick answer, but today, I really felt it was important to give the long answer. The downside of 20k Instagram followers for me.  Here are 3 challenges:

  1. I’ve got LOTS of friends in the same business who have WAY more followers than me. Some are in different niches, share different things, but it’s all the same business of blogging. I’ll often compare myself to the 40k or the 80k followers. Friends of mine that have done the business about as long as I have…or even less than I have…and have more followers than me. It doesn’t get to me too much, but I notice, and get bummed about it sometimes.
  2. I forgot to mention this in class, but the pain of going from 20.4k followers one day to 20.5 the next day, then back to 20.4 the next day. Meaning…people who have followed previously are so disinterested in what I have to share that they are unfollowing. I don’t put too much stock in it because it’s all part of the business. Gotta develop that thick skin, it is what it is. I unfollow businesses that I’m interested in one day and grow tired of it, too. But hey, it stings a little.
  3. Lastly, and biggest of all, what’s painful for me in having this in-your-face business on social media is how I feel it isolates me from friends “in real life.” I’ve got lots of great, supportive, kind people out there that I don’t know. I’m grateful for them, they help sustain me as a business, I LOVE hearing from strangers that something I have shared has benefitted them. It’s why I do what I do…back before this was a business, and even still, hearing feedback from others that something I have shared has brought them joy, is what truly brings me joy. BUT, the villain that creeps into the back of my mind, is that I notice on Instagram, all of the people that don’t comment.

Commenting on social media is my love language. I do it for my friends, and in a sense, how I feel valued as a friend. If I don’t get a comment from someone every now and then, I pretty much assume they don’t care about me.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s how I feel. Of course lots of people aren’t ON social media as much as me.  The pain comes from the friends and family that hardly ever say a word on anything I share, but I see them commenting on others’ posts.

Now, I get it…I post a lot. I post quotes and recipes and crafts, all in the name of the business. I don’t expect all friends to comment on all things. I will say though, I have one friend that comments on almost everything, and as silly as it sounds….it really means a lot to me.

I know those teens must be struggling fiercely with social media. Something I didn’t have to deal with at their age, it’s rough enough to navigate as an adult.  Share family, share food, share vacations (all of which may cause envy from others anyway) but please be extra sensitive when posting about friend gatherings.  I’m not saying I haven’t done it, and I’m not saying not to do it at all, but take pause, and as adults, we need to step in with those suggestions.

At the same rate, all of us–myself included–needs to take a few steps back when we see social media postings, and not take them so personally. When you feel that envy creep in, turn it around and do something good for someone else.

———–

Now, I write all of this not to have anyone feel bad for me, nor comment more on my social media shares, but to simply state that if I sought out value, self worth, or happiness in my Instagram or my veiny legs, I’d be a struggling mess all the time!

I like myself. I’m happy with who I’ve become and what I have to offer the world. Yes, I doubt myself, feel hurt by others, wish I looked different in certain areas, but I know my value is not in all of those temporary things, but in how I’m seen in God’s eyes, and I know He is pleased with what I’m making of my life.

I know that I am a child of God (sweet song on that link and embedded below). He loves me and knows my divine potential, and I must take the painful shaping and moulding of the refiners fire, because it’s making me into what I am supposed to be. An instrument in God’s hands to do good for others, and bless others with my experience, empathy, and talents.

I shared this quote I found after searching “Self worth quote” on Pinterest.

How cool is it that God created the beautiful mountains, the oceans, and thought that the world needed one of you, too.

Download printable PDF of the above quote: How cool is it

This is the characteristic that I’d most like to notice about myself, and I strive daily to be the best version of myself, despite life’s challenges. I hope and encourage you all to do the same.

Enjoy the two videos below…I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, as always!

Two videos that I linked to above, I thought I’d share below:

 


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Comments

  1. Aww I just love this post! Thanks for the reminder to remember to value myself and to see myself through God’s eyes. Such a beautiful post…by someone beautiful inside and out…you! Thanks Kristen!

  2. Hi Kristen,
    Want to work with you. Please let me know when you are free.

  3. I often read your posts on Instagram and feel like we could be friends in real life. I found a lot of strength reading about your sweet mother as I had just lost mine rather unexpected shortly before you. The details were very different but the feelings are all the same. I don’t read blogs often anymore. For me Instagram has replaced all of that but for some reason today I am here and glad to have found this post. I have been wrestling with some very difficult friendship issues and you have given me a beautiful reminder. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Jen. Thank you for your note. I’m happy you’ve hopped over from Instagram, it is easier to keep tabs on people over there, but I’m so limited in my writing…haha! I’m glad to hear that my words have resonated with you, back a year ago when we lost our moms and even now. Life is tough, and the more I live the more I realize we are all struggling, even when it doesn’t show on the outside. Hearing that when I share my challenges I have helped someone is a true blessing, so thank you for taking the time to let me know. I’ve found that when I’m in a jam with friends, if I can look for someone who can use a friend that I might not otherwise notice, I can feel better. Drop a note, invite to lunch, or share a favorite treat. Nothing like a little service to bring you out of a funk.

  4. I absolutely love this post. Too often we let our opinions of ourselves, or the opinions of others, define who we are.

  5. You are really an amazing blogger I am a great fan of yours and you were amazing with the tricks you give in your blogs. I just want to thank you for the work.