Identity Loss and Gain

Typing this with one hand because baby’s holding the other.

Lately I’ve been stripped of all the identities I once held dear.

The first to go was teacher. I thought I’d be teaching for at least five years. It’s only been four full-time years; full-time, but nonetheless, four. For some reason I’ve always thought of five as a golden standard, probably because I’ve heard that burnout comes at that time. Upon returning to Canada though, I wasn’t registrar or teacher anymore. I just felt like the pregnant lady, not suitable for hiring even within the first semester. There’s no classroom for me right now. Instead, I’m a student again, studying my own child every day, learning to understand her needs and personality.

teaching in China, snow in China
An English 11 class I taught a couple years back. They were really excited to see snow so we went outside to dance around for a bit.

The second identity to go was doer. I get things done. Or so I thought I did. With all the time I’d be spending at home with baby, I envisioned myself putting together a DIY pantry (homemade crackers!), sewing my own curtains, and generally becoming the modern approximation of a domestic goddess. You can laugh now (especially all the mothers out there). As things turned out, more often than not I was napping as much as baby did, I’m still hooked on chicken nuggets from frozen and my curtains are perhaps halfway done. My day consists of nursing baby, changing baby, napping with baby, throwing diapers in the wash (and folding them from the dryer on a really productive day!) and maybe the odd accomplishment otherwise.

Sunday breakfast is an achievement.

Finally, the third (and hopefully last) identity to peel away was self-sufficient, in a mental and emotional sense. I know I’m supported by family and friends, and always have been, but I’ve always thought that, left to my own devices during the day, I’d be fine. Instead, I find myself praying increasingly more for patience, for wisdom, for energy, and so on; I regularly ask for and welcome visitors because I need adult interaction; and I’ve been calling my parents almost daily, asking them what they did with me (I think I turned out okay, so they must have known what they were doing).

Through this process I’m immensely grateful, because without these identities I am left to face the question that is this: what does having an identity based in Christ mean? What does that look like in my life? No longer a teacher, a doer, or even someone who is self-sufficient, I am left to understand and explore a life that is reliant on Christ, to be loved by Him, to be provided for by His infinite grace. You might point out that the external attributes are similar to others who don’t have Christ in their lives: plenty others experience gratefulness, joy, and love on a day-to-day basis. But the internal life is vastly different. I am not claiming reliance on the nameless universe (as some are wont to say these days), nor am I simply focusing on positive vibes or energy. My heart and mind are refreshed and strengthened daily because I have a personal relationship with One who knows intimately my needs and desires, with Christ who sacrificed Himself for me on the cross and who loves me deeply, wonderfully, and abundantly.

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