Pride Part Two: But Who Are You?

Who is Maggie?

Oh that’s easy, I thought. I was asked this question this week, and I quickly spouted off a whole list of qualifiers.

I’m a writer, an editor, and a communications professional. I’m a journalism school grad. A born Midwesterner and a current New Yorker. A blogger. A big sister. A tennis player. A yogi. A single woman. And A Christian.

No, but I mean, who IS Maggie? Who are you?

Minus the labels and the titles. Take away the achievements. Subtract the expectations. It’s a simple question, but when the attributes that I so often cling to are gone, the answer becomes decidedly more complicated.

If someone asked you, “Who are you?” what would you say?

I’m not talking about the cute and witty Instagram profile bio you whipped up, or the accomplished and impressive LinkedIn headline you use. Not even your email signature or the little inspirational quote you include in your sign-off. I’m talking about who you are at the core, within your very being. The unshakable, insurmountable, unmistakable you.

Putting that answer into words is a lot harder to do than I thought it would be.

In thinking about this, I’ve been reflecting on Psalm 139 a lot.

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

He knows me better than I know myself. It’s His hand that has molded me. The gifts and blessings and struggles He’s given me are what shape my identity.

Who am I?

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am a child of God. I am His beloved daughter. He has known me before even I knew him. He has knit me in my mother's womb and knows the beautiful plans He has for me.

I am a 25-year-old woman with a story to share and a heart to listen.

I am feminine. I am sensitive and nurturing.

I am kind, and I am loyal. I like to be surrounded by people, to care for them, to cultivate friendships, to get to know them intimately. An extrovert through and through. I love people with my whole heart, and sometimes that causes me to put my earthly relationships above my relationship with Him. Sometimes that means I go to my friend for advice and direction, rather than praying or searching myself. And sometimes that means I find my worth in my social calendar, my dating life, and my quality of relationships around me. I see this, and I am working on it.

I am open and honest. I will tell you my past struggles, my past heartaches, my past mistakes.

I am strong. Resolute. A fighter. I am confident and secure in Christ. Yet I am still worrisome, anxiety-ridden, and insecure. I still wrestle with fear around my body, my relationships, my career, my future. I put pressure on myself to “have it all.” To be perfect and to reach some lofty unattainable standard. I am a planner, a fixer, a problem-solver. For better or for worse, I am type A. I am incredibly hard on myself. My own worst critic. I have to surrender my desire for perfection and control on on a daily basis. I have to constantly remind myself to give up my own plans and press into His plans. It’s not easy for me to do so. Often, I don’t understand the Lord. I don’t get what He is doing. But I trust Him. I trust, trust, trust.  

I am made anew in Christ. I have been given new life. I have literally been saved from death when I was in the throes of the eating disorder. He spared me, so now I live my life for Him.

Despite my worries and fears, I have so much joy. I smile, and I laughsometimes so hard that I get the hiccups. I am silly, goofy, and playful.

It’s so easy for me to complain, but if I take a good hard look at my life, I really am #blessed. Because as much as I could wish for life without anxiety or fear, one where I never struggle with an eating disorder, I don't. These things are part of what make me me. I’ve become an empathetic, understanding, joyful, loving person through suffering and struggle. He has shown me what really matters. He has been a good Father and taken things away to lead me back to Him. I am passionate about the Lord. I am courageous, and I am strong because of Him.

He allows me to be a light to other people, whether they’re Believers or not. I am excited about who God has made me to be. I am excited to see how He will continue to move in my life.

That’s who Maggie is, and she is proud of it. 

Hey, Girl, It's Time To Let Go Of That Pride

Guys, I’ve been struggling to write this post for two weeks now. I’ve been going over and over what exactly I want to write, and it’s been harder to write than some of my other posts. I want it to sound eloquent, and I want you to think I’m a great writer. And the fact that that’s the case really speaks to the topic itself.

Today I’m talking about pride, something I’ve never in my life thought I struggled with. Truth be told, I usually shrugged off pride as a male problem. Surely, I don’t deal with that. I’m confident, yes, but I am modest and humble.

Or so I thought.

pride (n.): the quality of state of being proud: as delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship

When your outer self and inner self are in competition, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate where your heart is at. I’m full of modesty and humility—on the outside. On the inside, a swelling sense of pride has bubbled up, and I didn’t know it even existed until very recently. In the past month I have noticed just how much pride plays out in my work and my career, and even in my ability to call myself a New Yorker. I’m a prideful person, and I have been too proud to really see that or admit that until now.

You see, for most of my life, I’ve been working toward a career in journalism and magazines. I received a journalism degree from a world-renowned program, I completed multiple internships, and I worked (and worked and worked) so I could land an editorial job at a magazine in New York City. I left my small and comfortable suburban home and moved to the big city. I relished this place for its high energy and for the sheer volume of busy, career-driven people surrounding me every day. I began to climb the ladder. I was the girl who could not only handle New York City but who could thrive here. I had an impressive and glamorous job to show for it. Magazine editor. I really liked the sound of that.

I moved from a print magazine to a digital magazine, where I received a title upgrade and extra responsibility to boot. I worked closely with the editor-in-chief. Much was expected of me, and I grew to love having people rely on me. They demanded a lot of me. As a major force at this small startup, I worked longer hours with more items on my to-do list—and more at stake—than ever before.

In other words: I made it, and I am awesome.

I was living out my long-desired dream to be a magazine editor. I was the girl that I wanted to be, but that confidence was less about who I am as a person and more about my title and my status. I was blind at the time to how much I enjoyed the look of my life. I got a lot of fulfillment from my work. Too much so. That fulfillment meant I was in a good place with trusting the Lord and His plan for my life.

But eventually I got tired. More than tired, actually. I was exhausted. My mom came to visit me during this season, and she told me she had never seen me so worn out. “A 24-year-old just shouldn’t be this stressed,” she said. She was right. I was burned out in my magazine position, and I was incredibly frustrated by the crazy number of layoffs (for even the most seasoned staffers) and restructuring I’d seen in the publishing industry. 

So I spent months praying and thinking about what would be next for me. I prayed for a position with regular hours, benefits, vacation time, and more stability. And by the time summer came around, a new opportunity arose in a corporate job where I could do communications work but have a better work/life balance. When I was officially offered the position, I prayed through it and accepted with excitement and hope.

Fast forward four months. I am able to leave the office around 5 or 5:30 p.m. and work stays at work. I have more free time and more time away from work than I’ve ever had before in New York City. Yet I feel bad about it. I feel as though I need to be doing more, working harder, and working longer in order to be fulfilled. In order to be worthy. 

I miss the creative freedom and artistic expression I had when working at magazines and websites. I am in a corporate job now, so it makes sense that the transition is something I need to get used to. But, really, this hollowness is more than missing creativity. It's because I miss being in-demand. I miss the hustle and bustle, the busyness, and the stress. I miss being able to tell people I work at X magazine and then watch as their eyes light up with recognition and impressiveness. I miss my title: I’m no longer Maggie the magazine editor, the person I strove to be for a very long time.

Magazines are the reason I came to New York City to begin with. They’re the only job I’ve ever known. And I am good at writing and editing. I understand the magazine world and have experience in it. I never planned to leave it. In the four months since doing so, my pride has reared its ugly head. I lost my self-assurance and my steadfast trust in His plan. 

As I was reading Scripture last night, I opened to a passage in 1 Corinthians. I think God knew I was working on this blog post and led me to the words that I needed to be reminded of:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.
— 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Any lack of fulfillment I feel isn’t because of my work itself but because my identity is still wrapped up in my job and my career. It’s because I’ve been wanting to do big things, to exceed expectations, to fulfill my potential as a writer and editor. For so long, I’ve wanted to bring glory to my name, rather than boast in the Lord.

It’s time to change that.

Pride is a socially acceptable sin. To much of the outside world, it looks like a really good thing, as it can so easily be masked as hard work, self-confidence, or the pursuit of vocation. I’m so grateful that God has revealed a deep, damaging pride hidden within me.

I am also grateful that God has answered my prayers with this new job—giving me work/life balance and time to truly rest and press into Him. He has provided so graciously and abundantly, giving me space to invest in community and this blog. These are gifts I don't take for granted, and they're gifts that may end up worth a lot more than unbounded artistic expression in the workplace.

The Lord has put me in a job where I can no longer derive all my fulfillment. And what a good thing that is! Work cannot be my identity, nor can any possession or relationship. I thought I learned this a long time ago, but as I've seen with this new job, I am far from done with learning. It’s a process. The Lord is stripping away my pride and the delight I take in being impressive. By His grace, He is shifting the source of my worth. He's showing me how lately I have been more excited about Maggie the magazine editor, Maggie the writer, Maggie the journalist, and He's helping me turn my focus to Maggie the child of God. Before I was a writer or an editor or a blogger, the Lord made me His daughter—a title I stand assured in above the rest. Everything else can fall away, but nothing will change my status as His child. And I praise God for that.