My Sweet Girl,

The other day I read to you one of my favorite children’s books. But like many children’s books, the message of the story is so applicable to adults. And I have a feeling it was written in retrospect, when the author was thinking “I wish I had learned this sooner.” The story is “A Hat for Ivan” by Max Lucado.

A young boy lives in a town where everyone is identified by their hat. And Ivan happens to be the son of the Hat Maker. This Hat Maker is known for sitting with each individual to learn all about them before creating their hat. This hat defines who they are and what they are becoming. Ivan’s Hat Day is quickly approaching and he is anxious to see and wear this hat that will carry his identity.

Long story short, Ivan has many well-meaning neighbors who decide that they want to make Ivan’s hat. He’s a very talented and sweet young man, and everyone has dreams of him becoming just like them. Ivan, being a very thoughtful and sensitive boy, tries his hardest to make each of these hats work for him. However, each of these hats make him feel tired, clumsy and confused. But, he is trying so hard to please everyone else so he wears them.

Finally, Ivan hears the heart of his father. He is saddened by his young son’s desire to please and make everyone else happy. Wishing that his son had simply waited for the hat that He was creating; the hat that was specifically made for him, just for Ivan. Saddened that his son thought he could fit in the hats everyone else had so thoughtfully created for him, even though hat making wasn’t their skill or calling.

This book has always spoken to me because I relate a lot to Ivan. From a young age, I’ve been very capable of filling many roles. I may not excel at any of those individual skills. However, I throw myself 100% into any task and make sure it is done with excellence. From a young age I was often directed to wear a certain hat. And I did it happily; wore each hat with pride. Secretly fearful that if I didn’t wear that hat well, that it was evidence of my inadequacy and inability to do something well. And I wanted to do everything well. I wanted to be good enough for everything.

Honestly, the skill of being able to wear almost any hat is a much desired skill. Very sought after in many circles. Selfishly, I love being desired and sought after. So, the more hats I could wear, the better (at least in my very obstructed view). And to be completely honest, I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing so many hats. And, my sweet girl, if you’re anything like me, I have a feeling you’ll be good at wearing a lot of hats too.

The trouble isn’t in wearing so many hats. The trouble is when you allow your identity to be wrapped up in those hats. When you allow those hats to define you. When you race to change your hat quickly, simply to please one of the many hat makers in your life. When the multitude of hat makers are given the key to your insides. When those hat makers, well-meaning as they may be, are the source of your self-worth and self-image. When the hat makers that surround you are your focus. When their happiness and their pleasure in your abilities is your goal.

Aria, you have one Hat Maker. And it’s not me. It’s not your Daddy. It’s not even you. Your Hat Maker is a loving Father who names each star, counts the hairs on your head, is the ultimate Author of your story and who has thoughts towards you that are out of our reach, but are better than our wildest dreams. When you allow Him to be the source of your identity, your self-worth and self image, those several hats you could wear will be beautiful and much desired. But they will be just that. Pretty hats. Exactly what they should be. Nothing more, nothing less.

When you settle into the hat that the ultimate Hat Maker creates for you, life becomes “easy.” Not that you won’t face hard times or struggles. But you won’t succumb to the pressure to strive. You’ll move effortlessly and purposefully to the rhythms of His grace in your life. Walking with confidence that the hat you proudly display is one created just for you. No one else can wear it the way you do. No one else was created with that specific purpose and direction. The Hat Maker only made one, just for you. Others might come close, but none can compare. So it’s useless to try.I pray that you discover your hat early. That you wear it proudly. That you never give in to the temptation to compare it to anyone else’s. That no one ever carries so strong an influence in your life to convince you to remove it or replace it. And most of all, that the pleasure you see in your Hat Maker’s eyes when he watches you wear it, is the only affirmation you need. His pleasure and pride in you is worth it. Believe me.