My earliest memory is when I was 4-years-old. It was February 1987, and my whole world was about to change. I remember washing my hands and slipping on a child sized hospital gown.
I don’t remember actually holding my newborn baby sister*, but there are photographs documenting this momentous occasion. I also don’t remember that I cried myself to sleep her first night at home with us, because I didn’t “want her to live with us”.
A story my mother has shared numerous times.
It was probably on that little toddler bed, unable to articulate my thoughts and feelings, that I was experiencing my very first identity crisis.
Identity crisis: a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.
I was no longer the one and only prized grandchild. I no longer held the sole focus of my parents’ attention or affection. I had a new role in my family. My identity had changed, in fact, my identity had to change -- because I was a big sister now.
Knowledge of self. Sureness of who we are. I suspect that the mystery, the tension, the grappling of self identity has been around as long as man. The question of who we are in relation to the world around us is a query we will have to answer for the rest of our earthly lives.
As I read Mary Alice’s most recent blog post The Silent Depths of Winter’s Snow, I visited memories of my own life’s seasonal changes. I revisited the mountains I’ve conquered and the valleys in which I have dwelt.
And I kept coming back to this theme of identity. I drew parallels from Mary Alice’s blog about our unique internal seasonal changes and our self identity. How many identity crises have I actually experienced?
Based on its definition, I have probably had a dozen.
I think aspects of our identity, like that of nature’s seasons, are meant to change. Sometimes our identity remains hidden, or it slowly sprouts. Other times it blossoms and basks in the sun. Yet in some seasons we feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves, like the leaves that wither and fall to the ground. Or maybe we even feel trapped in a desolate winter that feels like it will never give way to spring.
So, is life a series of identity crises?
I know God didn’t create us to live in crisis. Yet over and over again, I’ve felt the disruption of what once was my “normal” and the disappointment of not feeling secure in myself.
In the same way that confused little 4-year-old me had to grapple with my sense of identity in becoming a big sister, so did a terrified 27-year-old me have to reclaim who I was when I became a mother for the first time.
Perhaps God does allow us to undergo a series of identity crises throughout our lifetime so that we might get one step closer each time to discovering our truest selves. Who will I be on the other side of this storm?
With each “crisis” we face, we peel another layer away, unwrap a new dimension of our personhood, and learn more about who we truly are.
Who am I, Lord?
Ask Him. Or even cry out to Him! I encourage you to lay yourself before Him and wait in hopeful expectation.
Remember, dear friend, we are more than a sum of our experiences, crisis, likability, achievements, failures, relationships, possessions, sins...
Our identity rests in Him, in Whose we are!
For we are God’s masterpiece.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
A friend shared with me a wonderful analogy. “Identity (in Christ) is the flag pole held securely in place, cemented into the ground. And we are the flag. Sometimes we blow one way and other times we’re whipped in another direction. Or we are sometimes at rest. But, we remain attached to the flagpole.”
Every time we reaffirm our identity in Christ, we hold fast to this unwavering, unbreakable pole. And we can rest in the comfort of knowing our identity is rooted deeply and securely upon this (His) sturdy foundation.
I no longer fear the unexpected, in fact I have come to expect the unexpected.
To the teen experiencing painful realities of young adulthood...
To the young woman struggling with her identity post high school...
To the new bride...
To the first time mother…
To the empty nester…
To the adult child caring for an ailing parent…
To the widow enduring the death of her husband whom she was married to for 45 years...
To the mother grieving the loss of her child…
… you, my friends, are chosen, beloved, redeemed, beautiful, irreplaceable, perfect daughters of a King. Cleave yourself to the certainty that you are loved simply because you are.
The journey towards discovering your true identity is a journey towards finding freedom.
And on this journey, we will experience challenge, loss, and suffering, but this is part of the journey. This is just a pathway of refinement. On the other other side of “this,” on the other side of this storm, we will encounter more of who we truly are.
It took me almost 30 years before I asked the Lord who I was to Him. I lived three decades lying to myself about who I was.
God’s answer to me remains as clear and comforting to me now as it was when He first spoke it.
You are mine.
To my dear friends, who are being blown by the winds of confusion or whipped by the storms of uncertainty, my prayer is that you find peace knowing you’re securely held fast to the flagpole- the unchanging love of your faithful Father.
I am in awe of all of you who courageously rise each morning regardless of the season. I give thanks for the anchor, the flagpole, that keeps you securely fastened to the Truth.
And I remain hopeful for each one of you who are making a mighty voyage through the refiner’s fire.
She wasn’t born herself
She found herself
over a long
and treacherous road
and the more treacherous the road became
the more of
*To my first baby sis, I am so blessed by your life & who I am because of you. I love you, V.`