My co-workers and I recently returned from a work conference in Columbus, Georgia. It was a conference titled “2017 National Pregnancy Center Conference,” and it was a neat experience to come together and worship with fellow staff from pregnancy centers all over America. When we gathered our things and began the 5 hour drive home from Georgia this afternoon, I was struck by something. A thought, that is, not something literally. I realized that about this time last year, Jim and I were traveling from Atlanta, Georgia to Mississippi for the very first time. We had never been to the state, and we were going to look for an apartment that we could call home for our big move in May. This sense of nostalgia got me to thinking about how much can change in a year. Let’s see here…
For one, it felt like yesterday that we moved to Laurel. We were the newcomers in the small town, the couple that everyone seemed to know about, yet we didn’t know anyone. Nature of a small town, I know. I was approached by complete strangers, and they would often say “oh, you’re the couple that just moved from Atlanta! What brought you to Laurel?” Or, “oh, you’re the couple renting the Trest’s loft!” We were the new kids on the block. However, on another note, it feels like we’ve lived in Laurel forever. In this short amount of time, we have developed friendships that I truly believe will last a lifetime, and have never felt such a sense of belonging. We are no longer addressed as “the couple renting the Trest’s loft,” but “the Hurts, the young couple who hail from Virginia.” Laurel is home.
While at the conference, I was using my Bible that my parents gifted to me on my 16th birthday. It’s somewhat falling apart, but I hate to get a new one because I love to look through my notes, review sections of Scripture that I highlighted, and see my journey unfold over the years. There is a note in the front of my Bible, and it caught the eye of one of my coworkers as we were listening to one of the many gifted speakers. I had almost forgotten it was there because it’s habit to pull out my Bible and go to the particular passage that I’m searching for rather than linger in the front. But her comment caused me to stop and reread the note left by my parents nearly 8 years ago.
For those of you who cannot read the small print in the picture, the note reads:
Remember who you are. First, an image bearer of God (Gen. 1:26). This is the basis for your worth and the reason for your intelligence and creativity. Second, you are united to Christ (Rom. 8:9). It is Christ in you that defines you and gives you true life. Third, you are a Clinton. This means you never quit, and you are committed to caring for your family and being under our protection. Always, always, always remember who you are, and never forgot.
Love, Mommy + Daddy
7/2/2009 on your 16th birthday
I have returned to this note over the years, but this weekend it felt particularly powerful. I think it’s easy to lose your identity when you’re uprooted from the familiar. I wanted so badly to belong, to be accepted, to prove myself. But you know what? I have nothing to prove. I am not defined by my occupation, where I reside, the family I was born into, who I befriend, where I worship – these things have all shaped me significantly, but they are not where I find my identity and my significance. I am united to Christ. That is who I am, that is where my identity is found. Furthermore, I am His image bearer, I am His child. And although my last name may no longer be Clinton, that doesn’t change the fact that I will never quit and remain committed to my family. My family has just doubled in size, so I am now committed to the Clintons and the Hurts – but most importantly, I am committed to Jim.
It’s truly amazing how often I fail to remember the fundamentals. This weekend, I was incredibly thankful for this sweet reminder of who I am, and I’ll never forget how God has faithfully brought me thus far.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Side note: If you know my little brother, Connor, wish him a happy 21st. He’s one stellar fella, and I love knowing he is only a hop, skip and a jump away from me in Chattanooga! Also, he is handsome, loyal, kind, and available to my knowledge (ladiesssss).