I sit in my corner booth next to the wall of windows, and I wonder how I can express the key peace, purpose and identity in the next half an hour. How can I do justice to so great a theme?
I think about my own heart wrestlings through these issues, my quest for a heart occupied by peace, fully content with its purpose.
My mind is cast back to a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago. She was about to move to an unfamiliar city with her spouse and three small children. Her husband had landed a different job, and the whole family trailed along into unknown territory. She said to me one morning: “I just don’t know what I’m going to do there.”
I thought about this for a while, and realized I’ve felt the same way.
“Do what you’ve always been doing,” I told her. “Keep serving your husband. Keep loving your children. Keep teaching them the ways of God. Your identity and purpose haven’t changed just because you find yourself with a new view out your kitchen window while you’re washing the dishes. Your job is to continue fulfilling the calling that God has placed on your life — in this season, as a wife and mom.”
While her primary roles at that time were as a wife and mother, that wasn’t all that defined who my friend was as a person.
I’m a mother of three — but that’s not all that defines me.
I’m an adoptive mom — but that’s not the only thing I am.
I’m a homeschooler — but I am not my job title.
I’m a pastor’s wife — but my purpose isn’t found solely in my position.
I have brown hair and hazel eyes — but my reflection in the mirror doesn’t reflect my heart.
The thing is, these so-called “labels” I’ve listed above might contribute to my sense of identity, but they don’t dictate my soul. They’re not the core of who I am.
More than that, they could all be snatched away in a heartbeat. My children could die, my spouse could pass away, my kids might be sent to school, my husband might change jobs. My hair that used to be dirty blonde is gradually going gray — and I’m not even 35.
If my family were taken away or my hair all fell out — would my identity be taken away as well? Would my purpose in life dissolve?
I think about the world today. We live in an era where identities can be changed, stolen, compromised.
How do we think about these things and not be discouraged?
The answer lies in a place far deeper than any gender surgery or identity theft hacker can reach.
I have a friend who has recently retired, and one who has recently graduated. They’re both squinting their eyes, navigating through a hazy windshield, unsure what lies ahead around the next bend in the road.
While these next few months may feel frustrating in the land of in between, my friends’ identities have not changed.
They both belong to Christ. Yes, they are now called “graduate” and “retiree,” but far above these earthly labels, they are His.
It was my first time attending an African funeral.
My South African husband and I drove nine hours to be there. We arrived at the family compound in the township late at night.
A thick canopy of grief hung over the property.
The next morning, I woke up and walked outside to brush my teeth. The only water source was a single faucet on the exterior wall, which emptied into a drain in the ground.
I was almost three months pregnant with our first child, and still experiencing a fair share of morning sickness. Before I could even make it to the tap, I was greeted by a row of cousins, each with a plastic tray on their laps. “Morning!” they smiled. To my shock, on each tray was a sheep’s head — eyes glazed over, limp tongue sticking out. The cousins sat with flat razor blades in hand, shaving off the sheep’s hair.
The odor was pungent. A wave of nausea swept over me.
I returned the greeting and covered my mouth, rounding the corner of the house to escape the animals’ stares and smells. Around the bend were more cousins, elbows deep in huge metal bowls filled with sheep intestines. They spoke cheerful hellos as pesky flies swarmed around.
I was keenly aware that I was a stranger in a foreign land.