Identity: Why That Voice in Your Head Is an Idiot

I am a fidgeter.

Well, let’s use a verb, not a noun: I fidget.
(When I die, I don’t think they’ll write “Here lies Erin, a Fidgeter” on my tombstone, so let’s stick with verbs, not identifiers.)

I like to be doing something with my hands at all times. I think this is why I like knitting. It’s mindless, if you want it to be, so you can do it while talking on the phone, while watching TV. Once I actually knitted in a movie theater. Yeah, I’m that cool. Don’t be intimidated.

When I had long hair, I twirled it. Now that I have short hair, I still twirl it, and end up with little unicorn horns sticking out all over the place. It’s attractive. In the sense of not being attractive at all.

I also like to doodle. This is the most socially acceptable form of fidgeting, I suppose, although sometimes people think you’re being rude. I once had a professor who put, “No doodling during lectures,” on the syllabus right behind, “No surfing the internet” and “No gum-chewing.” This, I thought, was a bit extreme. And I doodled a lot during her lectures in protest.


I always tell myself, and the people who give me dirty or inquisitive looks, that I fidget during lectures and concerts and things so that my brain can concentrate better.
If I can’t fidget, my mind will wander. If I allow myself to fidget, though, all my brain’s wandering power is concentrated on the doodle, or the knitting, so the rest of it can enjoy the concert or lecture or whatever.

I don’t know if this is true, but it seems to be.  Or at least it makes a nice excuse.


Why am I telling you this?

Oh, right.


Once I brought some knitting to a hymn-sing at the church where I’m working. I pulled it out of my purse casually… and then I panicked: Oh dear. Is this appropriate? YOU’RE BEING SO INAPPROPRIATE. How can I put this away now without being awkward? Are people staring? Do I look pretentious, like, “Ohhhh look at me! I’m knitting! Everyone pay attention to me!” Oh no oh no oh no.

It was a dramatic moment inside my head.

My fellow pastor Barbara sat down next to me to enjoy the concert.  I leaned over and whispered, somewhat frantically, “Does it make me a bad pastor that I’m knitting during this?”

Barbara’s response was BEAUTIFUL.

She looked at me– in the kindest way possible– like I was an idiot and said matter-of-factly, “No, it just makes you a pastor who’s knitting during this.”




“Does this make me a bad pastor?”

I am constantly asking myself that question.

Does it make me a bad pastor that sometimes I don’t feel like I’m worshiping when I’m leading worship?
Does it make me a bad pastor that sometimes I don’t prepare totally for Disciple and then have to scramble on the day-of?
Does it make me a bad pastor that sometimes I’d rather go play with the kiddos on the preschool playground than answer my emails?


None of this has any bearing on whether or not I’m a good pastor, or a good person. It makes me a pastor… who sometimes doesn’t feel like she’s worshiping, and who gets behind on Disciple, and who like kids better than a computer screen. JUST LIKE MOST EVERYONE ELSE.

This is one of the hardest lessons of life, and if I learn it by the time I die, I’ll have achieved Nirvana. Or the Christian version of Nirvana. Which is probably the ability to make the perfect sweet potato casserole. (You do know I’m joking, right? Okay, good.)

What you do affects you. But it doesn’t define you. Just because I accidentally stepped on my dog’s foot at the park yesterday doesn’t make me an abusive dog owner. It makes me someone who makes mistakes. Just because I deliver one stinker of a sermon doesn’t make me a bad preacher, it makes me someone who had an off day.
They will not write on my tombstone: “Here Lies Erin, a Dog-Foot-Stepper-Onner,” or, “Here Lies Erin, the Worst Preacher in North Carolina.”
It’s a hate crime against yourself when you let your mistakes become your identity. It’s an act of violence. It’s identity theft (you knew I had to make that joke, there, it’s over with).


Friends, hear the Good News of the Gospel:
That mistake you made yesterday, it doesn’t define you.


Just because you sin, it doesn’t make you damned, or evil, or forever “a sinner.” It just makes you someone who made a mistake. It doesn’t negate your identity as Christ’s beloved.


Never let someone’s words– not your friends’, not your boss’s, not your parents’, and especially not the ones coming from your own mind– convince you that you are anything other than the beloved of God. A beautiful being. One who was created for such a time as this. One who makes God laugh and smile and weep and die to save you from yourself.

You are nothing else. Thanks be to God!

Some things that are going on.

Note: This is not a post about ministry. This is a post about life as an adult. Or a so-called adult.  A quasi-adult.  Someone who still calls her mother roughly once a day.  (What am I supposed to do, figure out how to freeze meat without her wisdom?)


Things in my life that are not working properly:

— I have not yet turned on the gas (heat) in my home.  I could see my breath when I woke up this morning. I could not feel my toes.

— My computer’s mouse touchpad, shift key, and general good spirit have gone on strike. Also, every time I press the spacebar, little backslashes begin running away with my cursor.  Incidentally, the backslash key refuses to work in its own right. \\\\\\\ (<- example. What the heck?)

— The cat is furious about having been boarded while I was in Europe and refuses to be on the same floor of the house with me.  Currently she’s upstairs, probably plotting to leave mean messages about my poor parenting on my mirror in mouse blood.


Things in my life that are working properly:

— I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed after the pilgrimage to Assisi.  What an unbelievable gift.  I’m not saying that God lives there more presently, or tangibly, or densely than She does here in Charlotte, but I do somehow believe that the people there live more presently, and tangibly, and densely than we do.  (Note to self: cultivate spiritual density, as opposed to carb-based tummy density.)

— Jet lag has given me a new perspective on morningtime.  Did you know that if you get up at 4 am you have time for four cups of coffee, a personal MSNBC mini-marathon, and a load of laundry before it’s even time to get ready for work? Oh, also, some devotional time.  How great!

— Someone is here installing something on my water heater… or air filters… or something. So maybe … something is going to start working? Start working better?  I dunno, my landlord sent him over. Whatever. There is a vague smell of something burning.  I’m choosing to be very Zen about it.


Things in my life that are what they are:

— I’m still not great at personal life-management.  In fact, it’s possible that I’m worse.  My house is a wreck, I’m so out-of-shape (I’m looking at you, Italian pasta that ruined my life while also making it wonderful), and I’m out of Anne Lamott books to read (her new book on prayer, Help Thanks Wow comes out soon soon, though!).

— I’m finding that I really only want to be friends with those kinds of people to whom you can say– without fear of shaming, reproach, or anything but a good “Oh honey”– things like, “I don’t really feel like doing anything but eating a whole pizza tonight,” “Can you come do my laundry for me?” and/or “I’m pretty constipated.” It’s the people who frown and judge and say, “Erin, you’re an adult now. Adults don’t say things like that out loud,” that really bum me out.  I don’t think Jesus would ever say that.  I think Jesus, in fact, says, “Oh honey” to me a lot.  And then He goes back to His knitting with a little secret smile about my silliness.

— \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ (that was from the spacebar. It sends its regards, apparently.)


I’m not going to publicize this post on Facebook and Twitter. It’s just for me and you, my most faithful readers.  Feel special– you’re clearly in a different class of holiness than everyone else, most of all me because I hardly ever read other blogs unless they’re REALLY good.

And please don’t stop following me because I ‘fessed up to being boring, a mess, and potentially fatally constipated from all that Italian pasta.  You would be too, and you know it.

All my love!