The home I grew up in resembles an Italian restaurant commercial. Whenever you entered my mom and dad’s home, you were welcomed like you were family. Of course, you ate like you were family, too—cioppino, tortellini, passatelli. And that was before Mom served the main dish. Strict Catholics, my father raised me, my two sisters and three brothers with the fear of God and a phobia about skipping Mass. When I was old enough to go off to college, my parents’ parting words to me were already so familiar, “You’re the first Ciccione to go to college. Make us proud, Cici.” No pressure. Just centuries of Ciccione history riding on my shoulders.
When I met Tony in graduate school, my parents were ecstatic. He was studying to be a lawyer. The first time I took him home to meet the family, my mother gushed about what “pretty grandbabies” Tony and I would make together. Cringing, I reminded her we’d only known each other three months. “No matter,” Mom said. “The Cicciones always make good children.”
Suddenly, it wasn’t enough that I would graduate with honors or that I already had job offers from top companies in my field. Now, I had to make pretty babies with someone in order to have my parents’ approval. They never tell me they love me. It’s always about my latest achievement. That brings a smile to their faces. Sometimes I wonder if I weren’t so successful or smart, how would their feelings about me change? I wonder if I’d still be the favored child if I (God forbid) failed. I’m starting to believe I am a human doing, not a human being. I need to know my family loves me for me, regardless of what I do in life.
Regardless of what society or your family tells you (or even what you may secretly tell yourself), you are not the sum total of your pedigree, résumé and credentials. You have one identity in life upon which you should rest all your aspirations: You are a daughter of God. That’s all. But how much that “all” entails!
You are unconditionally accepted—not because you earned it, but because of grace (see Ephesians 2:8–9).
Do you believe God wants an intimate relationship with you, not another impressive audition? The Bible’s revelation to the over-achiever is this: There is nothing more for you to “do” to earn God’s favor; Christ has already done it all. And because of the Cross (not by anything you’ve done), you are entitled to a promotion you didn’t earn, favor you didn’t seek, status beyond your wildest expectations and confidence in the court of the King. The world will try to point to what you do in order to define your worth—as if a salary, title or home address could ever encapsulate the wonder of a person’s value. Remember, it’s not who you are or what you do but whose you are. And you belong to the Almighty God.
“44 percent of American women say that making more money is a major personal goal. 30 percent also say they would be happier if they were rich, and they dream about getting rich.”
“But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” Isaiah 43:1