In a small group exercise recently, all participants were asked to rank our life identities or roles from 1-4, most to least important. Twenty-something of us sat with our papers folded into four spaces, our pens and markers unsteady for the task. We sat around the quiet room for a few moments and thought about what we call ourselves, what we do, who we care about, and what we dream to one day be.
Immediately I felt uncomfortable and conflicted with the assignment, but chose to go along with it. Some of us were moms, some dads, friends, brothers and sisters, lawyers and educators and students and nurses. Parents and grandparents. We were many things, but being asked to rank those things by their importance was a very difficult task for me.
Am I a Native American woman more than a mother, wife, or worship leader? Do my roles bump up against and fight with one another or do they feed into one another? What do they teach me about who I am and what I do, about how to be better in loving myself and others?
For weeks after that exercise, I felt guilty that I’d put my identity as a native woman before my motherhood.
Until I went to a conference in Nashville. There, I’d decided to put pieces of my identity behind other pieces. I’d decided that in that space I’d be worship leader Kaitlin and not Native American Kaitlin. By the end of the conference, the fact that I’m Potawatomi became who I was in that space to all the people around me. I needed that part of myself in that setting, and by trying to stifle it, I’d denied myself my own voice.
Driving four hours home, I realized that every piece of who I am is connected.
My dear friend Rachel of Hands Free Mama has a new book coming out on March 7th, and her words speak to what I’ve walked through:
“…life– despite its challenges and daily disappointments– holds moments of joy, hope, comfort, and peace when we choose to start over and offer a second chance to others and ourselves…”
When Rachel writes about slowing down and stopping, about listening and curating moments for the sake of spending time with the people who matter most to us, she’s writing about you and me. She’s writing about our relationships, about our humanity.
But she’s also writing about the things going on inside our own skin, our own tendencies to not listen to ourselves, to neglect the parts of us that may be asking to be heard.
“I just want to celebrate you as you are instead of waiting for you to become what the world expects you to be.”
So if I don’t have to rank my identity and split who I am into pieces, can I love all of who I am called to be?
Can I Only Love Today, my Potawatomi self, my wife self, my worship leading self?
Can I love that all that I am bleeds into everything else that I am or ever hope to be?
There, I find both grace and responsibility.
There, I find grace for other’s stories too, an understanding that every part of our stories matters and makes us who we are today.
If I love all the pieces of myself today, I can love all the pieces of you today, too.
“I hope you feel brave enough to bare the colors of your soul.”
Only Love Today.
Only Love [ your child-self ] Today.
Only Love [ your adult-self ] Today.
Only Love [ your broken-self ] Today.
Only Love [ your black, white, muslim, jewish, atheist, foreign, native-self ] Today.
Only Love [ your brothers and sisters ] Today.
Only Love [ your enemies ] Today.
Only Love [ the story of your neighbor ] Today.
Only Love [ all those people who are outcasts ] Today.
Only Love [ the outcast parts of your own soul ] Today.
Only Love [ when you have no idea how to love ] Today.
Only. Love. Today.
Pre-order your copy of Rachel’s book today, and find daily reminders that all of who you are deserves love, and all of the love that you give deserves to be given.
Together, may we Only Love [ every part of ourselves ] Today.