The whole idea of identity is a massive and fascinating topic and I'm probably only scratching a few layers of it, but I've been thinking about it... and I've had time to! I've been a shut-in for five days. (And for good reason. I'm not planning to be a hero- though I very much want to be. I hope to heal up well and fully, or close to it, so I have been resting. This is so that I can resume a bit of 'normality'- whatever that is- in our daily lives.)
In the last couple of years, I have been through four hospital admissions. This has also meant that I am becoming the Queen of Recovery- staying at home for a bunch of days, resting a lot, moving around but not too much, etc. I have also been very blessed to have people around me who have cared and helped to provide for our needs.
But being made to stay at home and not do much (as much as that sounds lovely at times) does something to you. I'm sure that seems a bit obvious- for one, cabin fever. And it is just not as glam - the Queen wears a coat of old duvet instead of red velvet and scruffy slippers instead of gem-encrusted shoes. She's usually home alone so there aren't any minions to boss around or posh tea parties or anything, though yes, there is cake and there is eating.
What I mean is, it makes me feel like I am not a contributing member of society, it makes me feel like I'm missing out, PLUS it makes me realise that the world goes on spinning with or without me. In short, it makes me reflect on who I am and what that means.
I can understand why we find so much 'pleasure' in being busy whether it is getting things done or spending time with others. As much as these may be positive things that do help the world function better, I realise they also give us a sense of being satisfied with who we are, a security in knowing we are needed and that we have a role to play.
For me, I feel like who I think I am is constantly being tweaked and questioned. Let me try and explain. Here are some of the things I pride myself on being... and some of the who-am-I questions it leaves me with:
- I put a lot of effort into being a good wife to the husband. I love the husband. But in recent months, things have been out of our control. There are aspects of his health and well-being that I cannot 'make better'.
- I aim to be healthy and fit- and let's be honest, want to look good. Running and swimming are some of my 'things' that I try to do. But with having many procedures and treatments, these are also things that I constantly have to give up and re-arrange.
- I thought that desiring to be a mother was a God-given thing and I don't think I have impure motives to be one. Now that I have been struggling to have a baby, that role of motherhood feels out of my reach.
- I have wanted to be in a job that is meaningful. And both in my previous and current job, I am doing something that is precious to me. However, just when I find my feet with one task or project, things seem to change due to life's ups and downs or I'm not always able to figure out how best to use my strengths and abilities, etc.
- I want to be a good friend to my friends, but there are some relationships that I have not been able to pursue due to events in life and a drop in capacity (and I'm not even a high-capacity person in the first place). Or I've not been able to solve their problems as well as I'd like to.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to get us all depressed nor am I asking for sympathy. I'm still going to pursue these things (above) to the best of my abilities. Surprisingly, yes, I do actually love my life. I list them just to illustrate how I think I hold on to roles that I feel give me significance, when maybe even these seemingly 'good' things are still only peripheral to who/what God wants us to be and He is constantly peeling me back to help me discover what's at the core. Or it is the manner in which I am stubbornly using them to make me feel good, that He is trying to pry my fingers from- maybe? I don't really know.
I think maybe what I'm trying to process is: God is showing me (will be showing me throughout my lifetime) how I've anchored my identity in so many aspects of life- many of which are not bad. But even some of these things may not always be, and His following question/s is, "Who will you be without these? What will you do then?"...
Truth is, I know the answer. It just isn't the easiest one to do- I'm still learning how. Yet it is the best and the only way.
So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galations 2:19-20 (NLT)
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39 (NLT)