Identity Crisis

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked an intriguing question, “What is a weed?” Many of us have our own preconceived ideas of what a weed is; it’s an annoyance, it’s useless and we’d like nothing more than to eliminate them from our yards altogether. However, Ralph Waldo Emerson answered his own question with this incredible statement, “A weed is a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

According to the online dictionary a weed is simply considered a plant in the wrong place. For example a dandelion is considered a weed if planted in someone’s manicured lawn. However, dandelions are actually edible, and their leaves and roots are used in many countries for food and for herbal medicine. It depends on where the plant is planted whether or not that plant will ever fulfill its potential!

In the book of Esther, we find a broken young girl named Hadassah. Orphaned after an unthinkable tragedy, she was brought into the home of her uncle Mordecai. Hadassah wasn’t given much hope to succeed. In fact, in our day, the unfortunate reality is that this girl would have been promptly labeled and isolated. The cold reality of our culture is that we label and discard people who are deemed to require too much work to fix.

Esther was born “Hadassah,” a name that literally means “myrtle tree.” Myrtle trees are unique, for they are able to grow in stony soil. They blossom in the wilderness and in deserts. Esther’s parents named her Hadassah knowing that she would endure rocky moments, but that even in the rocky terrain, she would grow and flourish. As Mordecai invested in this young girl, he realized that her identity was in her name. Yes, her name validated her uncanny strength to overcome and persevere—but it also kept her bound to her past.

Mordecai, being the man God entrusted to lead the fragile young child Hadassah, made a bold decision to change her name. He told her, “You will no longer be called Hadassah: your name will now be Esther!” What Mordecai was saying is crucial for every leader to grasp:

“Hadassah, you are rare. You’ve come so far since I first found you! You’ve conquered adversity; you’ve prospered when others would’ve shriveled and died. After all you’ve been through, I applaud your courage for even attempting to make something of your life. But Hadassah, the time has come to move on with your life. Don’t lose your strength, and don’t lose your courage—but let’s change your perspective!”

You see, every time Esther heard the name “Hadassah” she was reminded of the past. Because though a myrtle tree speaks of strength and courage, it also portrays a discouraging reality. Myrtle trees by nature don’t grow very tall. They are stuck in the place they are planted. To Hadassah, her name told her she wouldn’t grow much—that she would always be in this place of despair.

This lie is still being told to people today. Droves of young people filling our sanctuaries believe that they’ll never grow and that they’ll never advance in God.

Thankfully there are some Mordecai’s saying, “Hadassah, you will no longer be identified with the myrtle tree. You will be identified as ‘Esther,’ which means ‘a star’! Stars are amazing. They shine brightest in the darkest nights. They join creation in declaring the glory of God. They proclaim the work of His hands. Best of all, stars are able to flow freely in the heavens!” You’ve made it a long way, Hadassah. But now it’s time to get your eyes off your past and set your passion on your future.

Don’t allow your environment to determine who you are. You don’t have to continue to live in the shadows of your destiny. You may have walked through difficult trials and you may have endured much pain and heartache. But those memories of pain don’t have to be your future. Today, you can look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m not a myrtle tree! I am a star!”

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