“Who are you?” That can be one of the most common questions asked of us. Typically this is merely a query of someone’s name. Many scenarios, these days, ask us the same question but as a litmus test of our person or character. As an adult who we are has many different facets. Matt Waller, I am a follower of Christ, I am a father, I am a son, I am a husband, I am a nonprofit professional, and the list goes on. Many of these facets have come to me by way of the experiences I have had or decisions I have made. While they are descriptive they are not wholly a description of who I am.
In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader our earthly adventurers encounter a star in the form of a man named Ramandu. Eustace Scrub, the accidental stow away turned hero of the last three books, challenges this notion that the man is a star. Eustace says, “In our world...a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” Ramandu, the star, retorts “Even in your world...that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.” In this line, the author, C.S. Lewis challenges the reader to think they are more than their nature or nurture as made them.
Our children will constantly have labels, accolades, insults, stereotypes, and lies thrown at them. Some will stick. We as parents hope they are proud of the things that stick and that the good far outweighs the bad. Additionally, I hope that my six will know that their history, accolades, and failures will be what their life is made of but it is not who you are. As one of their “Signs” to live by, we remind them daily when we ask them that question with a double meaning: “Who are you?” And they respond “I am a child of the King and I am a Waller”.
Both of these identity statements are strong reminders that no matter what they do they have a divine inheritance granted to us all by God (Psalm 8, Hebrews 1). The other tells them their earthly heritage, that they will belong no matter where life takes them. As if to give them the prodigal son revelation without the prodigal son experience (Matthew 15:17-19).
While it makes for tender bedside moments and great reminders when they act up, I imagine it will be most effective when they have left our home. I think of them at a college party, meeting someone and being asked “Who are you?” I hope they are ambushed by the deeper thought of “Who’s they are.” and “Who they are.” May it keep them from evil but also may it drive them to be a little wild in their faith. Able to put their feelings and maybe even their safety on the line because they have authority that is given to them by God and a family that will support them.
We remind them of these “Signs” when they are little to prepare them for the world they will get into. How are you creating culture that nurtures belonging in your family? What can you start today to keep your kids close a little bit longer?