Want to teach your kids to be themselves, but aren’t sure how? Learn about your own true identity and how to help your kids in this insightful interview.
Learning more about my true identity has changed my life over the past several years.
As I’ve lived more into my identity- how God sees me and what He calls me– I’ve grown stronger in several ways. I’ve increased in my ability to tune out the enemy and listen more closely to the voice of God. I’ve encountered peace in ways I never had before, and I’ve experienced God in clear and tangible ways in my life.
Even with all this growth, I’ve still been searching for guidance on how to teach the concepts to my children.
How do I teach them who they are in Christ? How do I help put them in a position to hear from God? What does it look like?
Today I am excited to share an interview I hosted on this very topic: True Identity
Children’s book author, Jenna Winship, wrote an adorable story about a little girl, Millie, who starts to feel unworthy. The book shares her journey to realizing that she can shut out the lies of the world and listen to the truth of who God made her to be.
After hearing about her book, I reached out to Jenna with the hope that I could pick her brain and gain some wisdom from a fellow mom of three.
The interview that transpired (below) has some incredible nuggets of wisdom for moms like me: Moms who want to live more fully in the truth of God’s word, gain confidence in who God made us to be, and let those truths flow out to our kids in a practical way.
Don’t miss Jenna’s responses below– you can even skip around with links to the questions below, or just read straight through.
I have already put some of her ideas into action and had a sweet moment with my oldest as a result.
How To Live In Your True Identity (And Help Your Kids To As Well)- An Interview With Jenna Winship
How/When did you first start to realize your identity and how God sees you? How did that impact you?
When Ben and I were newlyweds, we moved to Thailand (being newlyweds apparently wasn’t challenging enough for us, so we decided to do it in a third world country).
Our time in Thailand was really difficult – we had the normal cultural hardships of living overseas – we didn’t have community, we missed our families, we missed our friends, we missed cheese.
But on top of all of that, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease shortly after we moved there. It was very sudden and quickly took over my whole life (through both physical pain and anxiety/panic attacks).
As we searched and searched for answers, as my health got worse and my anxiety grew, I believed the best thing for me was to come back to America – come back and find doctors who spoke English, be in a country where I had medication that I needed, a lot of things that logically made sense.
We justified this decision (which included quitting a two-year commitment as English teachers early), with phrases like “we don’t feel at peace about staying” and “we feel like God is allowing us to come home and we feel really peaceful about it.”
But the thing about peace is, it’s not determined by our situations or our circumstances.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.”
Later in the Bible, in Philippians 4 the peace of God is described as peace that transcends all understanding – as if almost by its nature, peace must be something that doesn’t make sense in its setting.
I used to believe that God has specific paths for us and if we’re on the right path, we’ll experience His peace, but if we’re off track, we’ll know it.
But this verse isn’t saying that. It doesn’t say “you keep him in perfect peace whose feet have stayed on your path,” it says “you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”
Usually, God is much less concerned with where we are, or what path we’re on, than He is with our heart posture in every circumstance. There is perfect peace freely available and accessible in every single situation.
So for the first time in my life, instead of just moving and searching for peace somewhere else, I chose to stay in Thailand and unearth God’s peace right there in that situation.
I did the hard work of digging deep and being honest with myself. I uncovered lies that I was believing about myself and God – lies that were enabling me to live in constant anxiety and fear – and as I confessed those lies and replaced them with God’s truth, I began to see a transformation take place.
How does knowing your true identity shape your parenting?
One of my very biggest false identities is “worrier.” Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been the one who worries. I spent most of my life believing God created me that way and that I could never escape it. Anxiety in parenting is a whole new level of anxiety.
Often, rather than living in totally false identities, we are living wrongly in our true identity.
One of the identities that God has spoken over me is “protector.” I can look at my parenting life and see SO MANY instances where I’ve allowed this identity to be twisted. I “protect” my kids by worrying constantly about them, by obsessing over every single decision, and by living in fear that something is going to happen to them.
All of that worry, anxiety and fear stops me from truly living and experiencing my life and I miss out on enjoying my kids’ childhood.
When I’m living in my truest identity, though, I replace that fear and anxiety with trust. And I become a mom who is loving, hopeful, joyful, engaged, confident. And occasionally, when necessary, I am protective.
What would you tell a new mom who was feeling discouraged about the strains and challenges of motherhood?
You were created to be the mom to your kids. It’s not about comparison because each family – each mother and each child – is uniquely created. And YOU were designed to parent YOUR child. You’ve got this.
The thing I tell all moms is this: you don’t have to have it all together, you don’t have to have all the answers – but you do have to be vulnerable. If you’re willing to let your child into your own journey toward wholeness, then they’ll learn their own identity and their own wholeness along the way!
My mother-in-law always says, “you can’t give away what you don’t have.”
So we want to teach our kids to have peace and to be confident in their true identity – but we can only do that to the extent that WE have peace and feel fearless in our own identity.
So the best thing I’ve found is to just invite my kids into that process with me. When I’m living in fear and I see that my fear energy is what the kids are picking up on, I grab one of them for a little date and let them pray with me as I confess the fear and ask God what He has for me instead. We’ve seen Him work in some amazing ways by doing this together.
What are some ways moms can help kids understand who God made them to be?
We like to integrate the language of identity into normal everyday life.
We emphasize often that we are able to speak true identity over each other – so every night before bed, we do a blessing activity. Each kid holds out their hand and we place their blessing for the day in it (i.e. “You are brave!”). They receive the blessing by putting their hand over their heart and repeating it (“I am brave!”).
In another example, recently on the way to preschool, I was with my four year old and I said, “let’s pretend we’re humongous whales swimming in the ocean! Take a big huge whale breath.” (I know whales don’t breathe under water, but breathing is important in this process, and my four year old didn’t seem to care that we weren’t being scientifically accurate whales)… so we breathed for a few minutes.
Then I said, “now picture a huge bubble floating away every time you breathe out!” and we did that for a few minutes and then I said, “If you have any worry or sadness about school then send it away in the next bubble!” and IMMEDIATELY my daughter started telling me about a sad situation that had happened to her at school the day before.
We sent her sadness in the bubble – I didn’t go any deeper with her, (I knew she was feeling sadness because the situation with the friend had made her feel unworthy and unloved,) but I did tell her she’s a good friend and she’s very loved and lovable.
I used positive language that she could put in her mind.
You recently published your children’s book, “Millie and the Warm Wind.” What led you to decide to write it?
Another fun way we process lies and truth and identity with our kids is through the Millie book! I wrote it because I wanted my kids to have a fun way to process their emotions and lies they are believing.
Millie gets her feelings hurt when working on a project with her dad, and she starts to believe lies about her self-worth. Soon, she finds herself on a whimsical journey to send her lies away forever in a floating balloon, and receive the truth about herself from the Warm Wind.
What is the message you are hoping that kids come away with after reading your book?
I want kids to believe the truth that Millie hears: you are good.
But even more than that, I want kids to remember the process. I want them to remember whenever they are feeling fear or anger or sadness or hearing lies about themselves, they can send them away forever and listen for God’s truth to believe in place of those lies.
Anything else you’d like to add? ( + free devotional offer info for Strong With Grace readers!)
I have a few other resources available that go along with the Millie book that I’d love to share about!
The family devotional is a really fun in-depth biblical look at lies and truth and identity filled with scripture and family activities that teach these concepts at a deeper level.
For blog readers, I’d like to offer the digital download of the family devotional for FREE with purchase of the Millie book. You just need to add it to your cart with the book and use the code “heather” and the price will be deducted from the total.
The balloon pins are especially fun for school-aged kids to pin their balloons to their backpacks and have them there anytime they need to whisper lies or fears or negative emotions into the balloon to send them away forever!
About Jenna Winship
Jenna spends her days adventuring with her husband and three kids (Rayne, Bradlee and Oaken) in Alaska. She is passionate about teaching, training and mentoring people in learning their true identity and releasing lies – and her favorite is teaching these concepts to kids! Her other hobbies include photography, coffee and chocolate. You can find her and more about her family and children’s book Millie and the Warm Wind at jwinship.com and on Instagram.