My Hats Off To You

How do you describe yourself?  Could it be that you associate yourself with a family name or ethnicity.  Find your identity in your friendships or your children?  By your profession?  Are you a caretaker of many?  Perhaps you are a leader or a teacher.  Lawyer, parent, writer, lover.  Rebel, biker, peacemaker?  An intellectual, activist, New Yorker?  Your description of yourself is telling.  Your description of yourself reveals where your identity lies.

If you are a woman, you probably describe yourself with the phrase  – – I wear many hats.  The list of hats is long.  I hesitate to give you a long list of your likely hats because, it would be a long list, and frankly, you know exactly how to describe yourself.  You’ve already mentally tagged your hats in the short minutes you have been reading this.  You’ve probably even reminisced about a hat you used to wear or played with the idea of wearing a hat you haven’t worn yet.  While each of us is different with different hats, we all tend to choose a handful of hats that is synonymous with our identity.

The strange thing about hats is that, for as much as they describe us or identify us, they tell little about who we are.  And, for as much as we know the truth about hats, we define ourselves by them anyway.  My guess is that your burdens are probably growing out of the top of your hat.  Take that literally and imagine for a moment.  I am talking royal British extravaganza growing out of the top of your hat.  I am talking about the life size hat on the head of the sweet, old African American grandma sitting in front of you at church.  I am talking about four large Mariachi sombrero hats leaning in you while you eat dinner.  Hats make a public statement about your identity.  But hats tied to your identity are burdensome.

If you are wearing a large hat with a lot growing out of the top, you are probably living a balance act.  It is probably hard to stand up straight, maybe even hard to walk or think.  Let’s see, if you define yourself by work or career to the point of having no fun, your career hat will topple you over.  If you define yourself only by mother, you will eventually feel that there is no individual thriving on the inside.  If you crown yourself with “having it all” or “having nothing at all,” your crown will suffocate you.  My thought is, on the wearing of hats, is that we have it all wrong, at least as hats pertain to identity.

You may have the alternative habit – – the wearing of too many hats.  You know who you are because you are the one who won’t admit it.  You are overcommitted with the appearance you are doing fine.  Stop choosing hats that tie you to tasks that you really don’t enjoy anyway.  If you are striving under a few of your hats, throw them off.  It is the right time to let a few hats fly off into someone else’s hands.

The heart of what I am getting at is that our hats ought not to be tied to our identity.  Throw off the idea that you are defined or want to be defined by your hats.  Keep a few hats for depth, versatility, strength.  Describe yourself by your qualities, your desires, your abilities.  Describe yourself in a way that I can know you.  In a way that I can see your value.  For with this knowledge, I can take my hat off to you.