Maxine Hallett shares how she found her identity in Christ, and how she prays her children will too
Thankfully, who I am now is not who I was. As a child all those dreams of who I would be when I grew up got lost in the reality of becoming an adult. Now all the nightmares that haunted me during adulthood have been dissolved in God’s love as I have grown into my identity as his daughter.
One of my sons recently moved and he told me that his heart dropped when his new neighbour said that she recognised him, as they used to live near us in Hildenborough. This was where we had lived when I was a drug addict, so no wonder he was a little worried. However, my son explained that I had turned my life around, become a Christian and now worked at my local church. He told her that he was proud of me! My heart melted – none of my children are Christians but to hear how my son described me made me realise how far I have come in my walk with God.
Chosen to be holy people
I love 1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG): “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”
God has helped me unravel myself and embrace the identity of the person he knew from the moment he created me in my mother’s womb. As his daughter I know that I am a work in progress, learning all the time, embracing my spiritual gifting and loving others and myself. I like the person who stares back at me in the mirror now – that was something I could never say growing up.
Trying to find true identity
Even though I have a strong sense of who I am, as a daughter, mother, sister and friend, I constantly pray for my teenage daughter who is trying to find her true self and identity in this modern world.
Because of my previous work with Fegans (a Christian charity caring holistically for children and families through counselling and parenting support), I knew how important it was to compliment children for their qualities and not their looks. As she has grown, I have praised Tia for her bravery, patience, kindness and confidence, never focusing on her outward appearance. I wanted a daughter that felt secure and at peace with herself.
I now have a brave, confident and kind teenager.
However, since middle school, she has become obsessed with her outward appearance and how many ‘likes’ a photo gets on social media. The pouting lips, photo filters, lack of clothing and boys are all things she is navigating right now.
To hear how my son described me made me realise how far I have come in my walk with God
On several occasions I have asked her to remove photographs from social media, opening up the discussion about why she feels they are appropriate.
My teenage experience
Recently I felt pressed to share my experience of when I was 14 with her.
Back then, I was desperate to be loved by anyone – I was not too fussy who. Struggling with the aftermath of my parents’ divorce, especially as there was a history of domestic violence, I went off the rails completely.
I did not have many girlfriends and made the mistake of having sexual encounters with any boy that showed an interest in me. I was always hoping that if I offered my body then someone, anyone, would want me. I was used and abused by the boys and beaten up quite often by the girls. It was a horrible time.
Continuing to be a role model
I have tried my upmost to bring my daughter up in the best environment I can offer her as a single parent. We always went to church together (she does not go anymore), we have cultivated good friendships and I have remained single so that she did not have to share me with anyone apart from God.
All I can do is continue to pray that she holds onto the happy memories we have made together and that deep down she knows that beauty comes from the inside. I know how important it is that I continue to embrace the identity that I have found in Christ, which will help me to be a good role model for her. When she is open to it, I can share my wisdom, listen to her and be there for her when things goes wrong, without passing judgement. I will continue to remind her that she is not alone, that God is there with her, in a world that can be an absolute minefield of challenges. I hope and pray that she will see God’s work through me and will begin to know him and understand what a positive influence faith can be in our lives.
Dear Lord, our Father, we are truly thankful that with your love we are able to focus on our true identity, which is only found in you. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you when we doubt who we are. Help us to hold on to the knowledge that we are works in progress and will always be learning on our journey with you. Amen.