Fall’s arrived – my favorite season – and here in my neck of the woods, we tend to dress in layers during the months of autumn.
Mornings start out crisp and cool with a little shiver in the air, but often by mid-day sunshine pushes that red vertical line up the outside thermometer. So we shed that outer jacket or sweater we put on first thing in the morning. And then by evening, we don it once again.
We peel off layers of clothing easily, but I wonder, how simple is it to shed the layers of who we are? You know, so that others see our true self instead of the persona we present to the world. You may think you know me, but can you really see beneath my layers? How do you know I’m not just hiding underneath the layers that define me?
Every one of us human beings possess layers. And some of us really embrace the layered look so you don’t see that our lives are somewhat less than perfect.
I’m speaking for myself here and since this week’s photo challenge theme is layered, I thought I’d peel off some of my layered look publicly. Don’t worry, no nudity is involved here!
First off, I have many family layers. Who I am in respect to my familial relationships. I am the daughter of my parents, granddaughter of my grandparents, sister to my siblings, sister-in-law to my and my husband’s siblings’ spouses, cousin, aunt to nieces and nephews and great-aunt as well. I am a wife, mother, and now grandmother myself.
My layered look reveals that family is important to me too.
Social layers also exist when you look at me. I am a friend, a confidante, an acquaintance. I’ve been a co-worker, volunteer, soccer mom, PTA member and president, and booster club member to name a few. Doing for others is one of my layers.
Schooling provided some more layers: elementary, middle, and high school student, high school graduate, college undergraduate, college graduate, on-line learner. Education and continuing to learn are also important layers.
In the world of work, my layers include having been a part-time sales clerk, summertime factory worker, English teacher, journalist/reporter/editor, technical editor, non-profit education director, and substitute teacher. I’ve been an employee, a team leader, and even a boss, and the most recent layer I’ve added is being a semi-retired person. Those layers tell you a lot about me.
Peel back a few more layers: church goer, church member, Sunday School teacher, youth group leader, small group Bible study leader, church board member, deacon. You may think you know everything about me now.
Yet there are still more layers – amateur photographer, writer, blogger, social media user, online group co-leader, library user, real and e-book reader. The list might go on and on.
But when you peel back all of those layers, who am I really? You may think I’m being very transparent, yet more layers exist that I haven’t shared. At my core, what is my identity?
I find my identity in being a Christ follower, a believer, a Christian not just by title but by faith.
My guidebook for life, the Bible, tells me I am God’s handiwork: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
When I placed my identity in Christ alone, another layer was added. I’m a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
But what really astounds me is this. God loves me perfectly, unconditionally. He doesn’t love me because of my layered look, because of the layers I demonstrate for others to see.
His love isn’t based on my being perfect. It’s based on nothing but Himself. Who He is. The God of the universe who sent His only Son to die for my sin, in my place.
Perfect love. Without any layers.
“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” ~ Carl Sandburg