Finding my Identity

{MARCH 2016}

Reading about someone from a poor slum in India, I think, Why was I born in one of the richest nations on earth to a well-off family, and not in India as an impoverished “untouchable” desperate to survive?

Or, I might have been born in Africa in the 1800s and captured by slave traders, then sold to a rich plantation owner in the Southern US.

What if I had lived on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific, being taught to sacrifice to the gods in return for their goodwill, never hearing about the true God my whole life?

Sometimes I feel a tad guilty for being so privileged. But, it’s not my fault that I was born where and when and to whom I was born.

I can’t help who I am.

God chose my life for me.

If I have received blessings and protection from the Father that other people have not, it isn’t because He loves me more or that I’m more important.

If life has bent and bruised me in ways that other people have not been, it isn’t because God loves me less or that I’m less important.

Who can understand her own life? All the whys and the what ifs and the where is this all going? Who has the answer to those questions? Life, and all of existence–all of history–is a gigantic puzzle that we’re too up-close to see clearly. Only God sees how all the little pieces fit together, and knows what the picture will look like as a whole. He has a special purpose and a plan for each of our lives, and loves and treasures us all. And even though we make some of our own choices, there are many choices that have already been made for us.

Such as:

  • Who our parents are
  • Where we were born
  • The date we were born, and the time during history
  • The siblings we have, or whether an only child
  • Our place in the birth order (whether first born, middle child, or baby of the family)
  • How tall or short we are
  • The color of our hair, eyes and skin
  • If our hair is straight, wavy or curly
  • Whether we are male or female
  • If we were born with inherited physical abnormalities
  • Our education, to a certain extent (our parents made some choices for us early in our childhood that we had no or little control over)
  • What religious beliefs our parents had and chose to raise us in when we were children
  • Our economic status, to a certain degree (we can sometimes change this after we grow up, but can’t help the circumstances in which we were raised)

What if we each rested in the place where God put us. Not to say that we don’t try to overcome challenges or improve for the better; but simply, that we accept those things that we have no control over, and make the most of what’s been given to us.

There’s no need to feel guilty about being born “privileged,” only to ponder how one can help those less so, and how we can “bloom where we are planted,” rejoicing in the gifts that God has given us to enjoy. There’s no need to question God’s love for us if life has treated us unkindly, only to trust that we were allowed to go through those painful (sometimes traumatic) experiences for a reason, and to permit ourselves to be open to God’s healing, comfort, and guidance. We’re each where we are for a reason, and though we probably won’t know the details about why God put us where He did, He’s given us clues to what His plan is for each us, simply by the “frame” He has given us to live our life in.

So, I was born a girl in the late 20th century in Arizona to Christian parents who were committed in marriage to each other, with one brother and one sister, both younger than me. My parents chose to homeschool us, and they took us to a non-denominational church every Sunday. We didn’t have tons of money, but we weren’t poor, either. My dad worked on our unfinished house for about fifteen years while we were living in it, located in an open, lightly-populated area where we had plenty of room to ride bikes, run around, and build forts. All of us were healthy and happy, for the most part. I grew up, made some choices of my own, eventually married, and now have six children. My hair is slightly wavy and brown, my eyes gold/olive green, my skin light. That’s a sort of frame.

What is my life about, then? Sometimes it helps to keep things simple, though we know that we could go far beyond the basic answer. Let’s fill in the frame. Well, my life is, right now, both the challenge and the pleasure of: Being a mother. Being a wife. Learning to live on one income. Learning to keep the house tidy. Learning to cook new recipes. Trying to keep myself and my family healthy. Keeping an eye out for how I might help other people, even though it will probably be in small ways. Reading my Bible. Pondering the truths it contains. Teaching my children from it. Praying. Not thinking about the bad things as often as I feel tempted to, but focusing on the good things. Overcoming anger, frustration, unforgiveness, being judgmental. Trying to trust in God and not live in anxiety and fear.

That doesn’t seem so profound, and doesn’t sound anything like an adventure story, or a romance novel (I don’t read those, by the way, but I have enjoyed Jane Austen’s books, to an extent). But wait, not everyone’s life is a drama being constantly propelled from one tense scene to the next. Some people’s lives are more of a homey but satisfying tale about family and friendship. Is that boring? It only is if you think the story is finished by the end of the last page. But it’s only the beginning. It’s only blah if you think that the story in print is all the story there is, and fail to realize that beneath the sweet (sometimes stressful) surface lies an undercurrent of meaning, giving texture to life, bones and muscle beneath skin; the force of principle that gives shape to a life lived simply. A life which will reverberate into future centuries–even further, into eternity. A life kept in the custody of God, waiting for future reward and countless adventures not only in this life, but in the life yet to come.

August2014 069