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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I am not who I think I am

"We have this view that we are what we think we are. . .I construct a false identity that I present to people, but I fool myself into thinking that I am the false self I have created. We think the truth of who we are is in our mind, but what if the truth of who you are is in your material reality. What if the truth of who you are is hidden in what you buy, in how you regulate your resources, how you regulate your time, in how you regulate your activities? What if the truth of who you are is not in what you believe, but in the totality of your existence. The argument is that if Christianity does not transform your material reality it is not true."
Peter Rollins

I think life's confrontation of death is known to bring about a re-evaluation into a person's existence. I doubt I am alone when I confess my self identity is something that has been a life long struggle for me. Those closest to me, that have been near to me for the longest, could attest to many identities I have created in order to find a place in this world. In and through each of these "created" identities no matter how high I built the walls around me the inside of those walls remained empty. Some of these identities were more ridiculous than others, and some were extremely damaging to my body and soul. The last one I built, and false seems the incorrect term, but none the less it was as Matt's wife. So who am I now? Half of me is gone. The person I identified as - the person I created - a loving, supporting, and sometimes relentless wife has gone with that other half.

This is part of my sadness, no doubt. Part of my loneliness. My fridge is overflowing. Literally, I can't find a place to put a thing. Why? Because my late husband had the metabolism I could only dream of. He wouldn't allowed a piece (not one piece) of food to go wasted. I saved everything that he didn't gobble down at the dinner table. I could have cooked him anything and he would have gotten this look of utter amazement on his face, as if he couldn't believe food could ever taste so good (Ooooo. . .that I miss). I'm sure lots of people keep left overs, but Matt? Matt would eat them, and eat them all. Mostly at two in the morning. . .in our bed (Ooooo. . .this I don't miss). Every night of the week. I would hear him tip-toe into our room, doing his best to not disturb me, even though I couldn't sleep through a thing. He would usually take two or three trips. A plate full of leftovers, a bowl of ice cream, and a huge glass of milk. Now a days it's more like this. . .I cook, Evelyn informs me she doesn't like it (doesn't matter what it is, lol), I don't eat either because I can't think of anything less desirable, and we save the leftovers. We save the leftovers because Matt would be appalled if we didn't. I save the leftovers because as Matt's wife that's what he would want me to do.

I feel like I'm treading in deep waters these days when I state something I know to be fact about what God might be doing, because as my life here lengthens I feel the word 'know' seems almost prideful in the face of God's Holiness. I can say that my Spirit given identity was affirmed in Christ. This affirmation was truly brought to light in my life within the last few years. Jesus, of course, knew this for me all along. He called me home to His loving arms far too many times to name. But is my life reflecting this truth? I feel aware of my path once more, aware that Jesus and I are walking side by side. If I follow the Spirit's lead I might continue life in a more meaningful manner this time. One foot in front of the other, as I have been, and will continue to do hopefully for years to come. And with each of those steps I hope to die a little more to myself, and live a little more in Christ. It should not have to take the death of our spouse to come to this realization.

I'm going to state the quote again, in hopes you let it marinate for a moment "What if the truth of who you are is hidden in what you buy, in how you regulate your resources, how you regulate your time, in how you regulate your activities? What if the truth of who you are is not in what you believe, but in the totality of your existence. The argument is that if Christianity does not transform your material reality it is not true."

So who am I? Not. . .who am I trying to be. Not. . .who have I led people to think I am. Not. . .who do I want to be. Who am I, who is it the Spirit is trying to transform me into? The answer, of course, is Christ. I am an image bearer of Christ, and that is no task to take lightly. God is calling me, has called me, to start taking this seriously. I know I won't always get this right. I will still stumble. I'm pretty sure my nails will always be done, my hair highlighted, and undoubtedly there will always be a pretty size 6 pump calling my name - but then again. . .that is me. It's who I've always been, not a created identity. My desire now is to stop building those false identities. To die to myself, and live to Christ. I will be an image bearer of Jesus, and nothing more. If Christ allows for me to be a wife again, or a nurturing mother, or gives me the right words to lift someone else up that gift will be identified through my image bearing, and through that alone.

I feel this post needs to be left a little open ended, because this dying to Christ will take time. It will be a journey, and a hard one I'm sure. A journey I hope others will understand, others will join me on. This is a video I came across this week while meditating on these thoughts, I found it to be beautiful. Enjoy.

The totality of our existence


Tracey Schowalter said...

Hey Steph - I want to let you know that your posts feed me spiritually! I don't get much on Sundays as I am always running around working or at hockey games. THANK YOU! I know that must seem ridiculous to you. Your pain translated to me being spiritually fed. You are gifted! Not just with writing, but with speaking, and your bubbly, sweet, kind personality. I've read almost all of your posts. I wish to read them all! You are captivating me in a way I can't describe. How crazy is that? This painful, heart wrenching journey that the Lord has put you on, and you are blessing others. Wow. I especially covet the one "Is it all going to be okay?" In your heart you know it will, but how can it be, with the pain you feel now? I can't say that I have experienced anything close to your pain, but the pain I have endured in my time has left me wondering the same thing. What if? What if I really mess up my kids? I pray every day God protects them from my mistakes as well as guides me through them. I can totally relate to this posting in particular. I think we all can. We strive every day to "be" something. I had to give that up years ago (though it still rises up every day). Especially when I became a mom. I realized God made me to be a mom. Not a psychologist or a photographer or any other such notion I thought I could or would be. When I became a mom, that's what I was! And a wife, and the list can go on. Today, I have submitted to God's will for me - to be a mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend, witness, etc. I don't need a label of this or that profession to define. Do I desire it? Oh yes, sometimes so much so it makes me crazy. Do I know I can do it? For sure. Why am I not doing it? Because it is not His will for me. That's all I know. If it ever is, I will know it, feel it, and desire it with a fire that can't be put out - not just a worldly desire - but a full-bodied Spirit-driven fire. As I ramble on, what I am trying to say is that even though your situation is oh so unique, we are all so much alike with the same worries, fears, doubts, complaints, and faults. To wrap up my ramblings, you are gifted, you are blessed, and are blessing those around you. What you 'were' and 'are' now doesn't matter. The Lord knows you and will mold you and you are so spiritually gifted that you will someday be 'someone' :-) You already are in God's eyes, and mine, but He has a marvelous mystery to unfold for you. So, when you are in a moment of joy, as I can only imagine they are far and few between right now, remember and smile for He loves you and will carry you through all this. Why He chose to bring you through it is unknown. I'll pray for revelation, guidance, and discernment so that when you are in a place of spiritual joy you can see the work He has done! I can see it already, but it's your journey and His timing in how it's revealed. Prayers and blessings being thrown your way.

A Young Widow's Rant said...

Thank you so much - even just for taking the time to share your heart honestly!! It can be such a ride being a mother, a Christian, a wife - and knowing we aren't alone is such a relief:) It's a blessing for you to say that I've been able to feed you some spiritually - that is all God, and I'm so grateful He is given me guidance and the courage to write. I love you girl, and I can't wait for our friendship to grow, as I know it will!!