"Likewise I, God, will comfort my people, I will look with compassion on all her ruins; I will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her."
Isaiah 51: 3
EXPLORATION What Is My Identity Based On?
"Identity" - The collective characteristics by which a person can be or is distinctly recognized or known.
"When at the mirror,
I stand and see,
the flesh's reflection
peering at me;
my ponderous thoughts -
a vision's marquee -
ask what is my life's
INSPIRATION "After my husband died, I felt like I had lost half of myself."
"When I moved out, after the divorce, I found out I couldn't retrieve all of myself
that I left behind."
"This past year, I felt like I had an amputation when my youngest child left
"The day I lost my job, I felt like I lost my identity."
The above quotes are words I have heard spoken on more than one occasion by women and men, who found themselves in the position of losing someone or something in their lives that provided them with a sense of identity. While the person or thing may not have given them their entire identity, it at least had given them a portion of the tapestry from which their life was composed. Threads woven into place by spouse, child or even a job.
Let's take a moment to look at each one of these areas:
Area #1: Loss of a spouse. Whe my dad died, my mother readily admitted that after knowing someone, from the age of 12 and then after marriage, working side-by-side with the person for nearly 40 years, her identity took a beating. For the first time in her life, my mom was asking herself, "Who am I - alone without this person next to me?"
Area #2: Loss after divorce. A close friend confided to me that after her divorce, even though she was relieved to be out from under a very abusive situation, she realized that the "identity" of success and accomplishment she had cultivated through the years, came crashing down as she found that part of the tapestry of her life contained threads that spelled out the word, "failure." Poet Lynn Atherton puts this thought into perspective in her Beseechment Psalm:
"My heart is troubled
and I am scared
having bade goodbye to
the man I was supposed to love.
The work to which I was called
has become a nightmare -
like trying to cross
a highway with the traffic bearing down
while I on my hands and knees
can only inch my way
I need Your way
a miracle of faith and peace
How many women can relate to these words especially when transposed against that of a proud, head-held-high, expectant bride walking down the aisle to meet her beloved. And now, this same woman may be reduced to tears, afraid of her next move. Talk about an identity crisis!
Area #3: Loss of children. Whether a child dies before a parent or if a child moves out and leaves "the nest," for women, the loss of a child strikes at the heart of a mother's identity. All you have to do in this day and age is drive by a few mini-vans on the highway and this statement will be underscored by a bumper sticker that says: "My child is a star at ‘_______' school." Nearly every parent I know has at one time or another said, "My child, the _____!" and believe me, the way the blank is filled in is often with a term to spotlight success, not failure.
Area #4: Loss of title. Not long ago I watched a television interview where a gentleman kept being referred to as "Ambassador." I asked my husband if he knew when or what country this person was ambassador for - he did not. In fact, we had no recollection of this person's service to the country. Yet years later, he still carried the title. (I've been informed this is a regular practice!) How strange that the titles we carry at our jobs seem to be the pinnacle in giving us an identity in the workplace and often within a social circle. Several years ago, at a Home Owner's Association meeting one gentleman who had recently moved to the neighborhood, had informed all of us, at least ten times in one meeting that he was a former "Titan of Industry." Seems being known as Bill on Lot 26 was not good enough for him. His identity was wrapped up in being Bill, C.E.O. and Chairman.
At this point I invite you to take a personal inventory of your own life by asking this question: "What gives me my identity? Who and what makes up the threads of the tapestry of my life, those threads that have woven a picture of who I am or claim to be?
I found my personal answer a little scary for so much of the picture of who I am has been woven by externals and thus, when those externals disappear, die, leave, or disapprove, my identity can become clouded or lost as well.
It is instructional and valuable for us to look at the life of Jesus to find out how He kept His identity in tow when living on earth and was ridiculed and called names, derided for who His family and friends were.
Jesus' life offers us two important solutions to an identity crisis.
#1: Jesus never forgot who He belonged to. I love Jesus' words recorded in John 10:17 "My Father loves me!" What a certainty to live by every day. I belong to My Father and guess what? He loves me. Period! No matter who or what we lose on earth that has given us identity, our Father's love is THE CONSTANT!
#2: Jesus never forgot what His purpose was. Jesus said, "But I am in your midst as One who serves" (Luke 22: 27). An unselfish life concerned for others gave Jesus an identity bigger than corporate honors and the applause of crowds.
If you wonder how identity applies to the study of David, Bathsheba and Uriah, we have to go no further than the Biblical definition of Uriah as Uriah the Hittite - the outsider. And Bathsheba and David are identified as the lovers who nearly brought down a royal kingship.
If you and I will remember through our lives, that the love of our Father remains constant and that He has a purpose for our lives, our identity will be woven into a perfect reflection of His tapestry for our lives. Our identity will become our Father's will and purpose for us.
praying in the Garden while others slept
You know the pain of being alone.
Be with me now in my loneliness.
Help me to find strength in solitariness,
peace in the silence,
and the presence of God
in the absence of others.
Turn my thoughts from myself
that I may seek
not so much to find companionship
as to give companionship to others."
Margaret T. Taylor
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.