Identity – Who am I?

Who are you?  At first glance that seems like an easy question to answer.   Most of us will say, I’m a mom, a dad, a son, a friend, a teacher, a boss, a coach, an athlete, a musician, a girlfriend, etc.

BUT…If you were to lose any of those things, would you still be okay?  Would the core of who you are be rattled and lost?  If the answer is yes to that question, would you consider that your identity was perhaps a little bit more than that?  Yes, loss and death is devastating.  I’m talking about when it become debilitating and takes over your grief process.

I started to explore my identity many years ago when someone asked me that very question.  It kinda made me mad, if I’m being honest.  I WAS a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter and a friend.  What else could there be?

It wasn’t until I was raising my boys and teaching them about who they are and helping them identify with themselves, did I finally understand what that truly meant.  They are young and the things they are involved in will end.  If I taught them that their entire identity was wrapped up in being an athlete, what would they have when all of that ended or didn’t go well?

My mom died and left me grieving and lost.  I was shaken and so horribly sad,  as most of us would be.  I didn’t know how to move on, I was literally lost.  I didn’t know where to go, who to call, or what to say.  A normal reaction perhaps, to a devastating loss.  It wasn’t until a few days later when I arrived back home that I believe my journey to finding myself had begun.

I remember sitting on my back porch, filled with sadness and loss.  I reached for my phone to call the one person who could help me through these feelings and I stopped in my tracks.  I was calling my mom.  I didn’t reach up, I didn’t look within, and I didn’t attempt to go through the steps of healing.  I reached out to call her and it was then that I realized no matter what I did, I would never talk with her again.  I also realized in that moment, for the first time I felt truly alone.  No one could help me.  (except for God) – I will tell ya about that lesson on another day.

I wasn’t only grieving my mom that day, I was grieving what I believed to be my identity. I had no idea that’s what I was doing at the time, but that is in fact what was happening.  I knew how to be a daughter.  I didn’t know who I was when that was taken from me.  My identity was ripped from me and I was lost.  And so the journey begins.

I shifted my identity to the others I had created.  Mom, teacher, sister, wife, daughter, friend.  As sad and horrific as this sounds, would my spirit be ok losing any of these titles as well?  If I lost my job, would I be sad and able to find another one?  Or would I go through a depression and feelings of worthlessness because I had my identity tied up in being a teacher?  If my marriage suddenly ended, would I be able to pick myself up, fight, and live a productive life? Or would I find myself in bed with the blankets over my head, and for days on end battle depression?

When we go through an abundance of depression and hopelessness about the things that end in our life, maybe that is because our identities were tied up in those titles.  A normal amount of disappointment, grief and sadness is appropriate when dealing with loss.  A debilitating and prolonged grief period might have appeared because we didn’t know that a second loss was upon us.  The loss of our identity.  The title of what we called ourselves, was now dead.

Back to the drawing board.  Who am I?  If I cannot say that my identity lies in being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, or a teacher… Then who am I?  What would you say?

I’m leaning on the lines of saying that I am a person of faith and integrity.  I am a person with strength and love to give.  None of those things can be taken from me.  They are; Who. I. Am.  It’s what makes my heart beat and it’s what drives my feet to serve others and give my time.  No loss, no trauma, no person can take those things from me.  It’s in my breath, my core, my heart, and my soul.  It’s the light in my eyes and the passion in my heart.

Knowing that my worth, my identity lies in my own hands and that no one can take that away, is freeing.  I have wonderful roles to live out in my life.  Being a wife, mom, sister, friend, daughter, and teacher are some of the places my “identity” has lead me to.

I agree, it is confusing.  I wish I had a better word for the word “roles” in my life.   A role sounds like an identity, but an identity has so much more depth.  Your role is something you do in in life.  Your identity is who you are when you do those things.  It’s your love, your integrity, your strength, and the core of what makes you, YOU.

I’m still sorting this out in my head.  It does sound confusing to me.  The best way I can keep it straight?  I think back to when I was on the swim team.  I was wrapped up in being the best, giving my all.  When I didn’t become the best and when that sport ended, I still needed to be ok.  If all I could identify with was being a swimmer, then what else could there be for me?  How could I wake up the next day and find purpose in my day if I couldn’t be a swimmer?

Our role is like the skin we wear or the hat we put on.  It’s the role we are given and the many things we do.  Our identity is what is under our skin.  It’s the words that come out of our mouths and the actions our hands take.  It’s what we do when no one else is watching.  Our identity is our spirit, our soul, our personality, and our passions.  It’s something that cannot be taken away or lost.

Please chime in… I’m still sorting all of this out in hopes of understanding.  I’m sure there are tons of articles and books on this, but I haven’t read any.

 

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18 thoughts on “Identity – Who am I?

  1. Thank you for the post. I understand what you mean. I did not have the best relationship with my mom but once I lost her. I did lose something of myself. Is only because if the Lord that I was able to let go of her. I usually can’t read a long post much but your at this time of night was very honest and real. God bless you.

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  2. It is so nice to meet you. I love this post and thank you for sharing this. The picture of your handsome boys is amazing… you are blessed. I am glad that my site works now so that I am able to follow you. Will read more later on.

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  3. We went through the same scenario, after I lost my mom the year I gave birth, and my dad last year. From then I know there is more higher than medicines that could save us. This brought me to complete surrender. Funny we often identify ourselves with our last names, what we do for a living, or our position as a woman, a mother, etc. But what we should always remember is that we are created by God and for God. The hope we are given is the resurrection of Jesus. Here on earth there will be sufferings, painful emotions, but the light in the eyes of Jesus to continue to proceed that the will of God be done is the example of faith he showed us, what we should also live. We should not stop living for the glory. Because there is a special place God prepared for us for our obedience. God bless.

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  4. thank you so much for this post!! I have been struggling with this very issue for the past few years and more so this past 7 months. I lost my mother 16 years ago and my father 6 years ago. Then my marriage fell apart and we divorced. I never did have children. And 7 months ago the gentleman I was dating walked out on the relationship for something better. So here I sit…what’s left? I’m not a mother, never will be a grandmother, not a wife and no longer a girlfriend. My brother also passed away when we were teenagers. I have been wandering for so long in a very dark place because that’s all I’m doing in looking down and inward. I’m beginning to see some light because a very wise person reminded me that I am the daughter of the one true King! And this post of yours is helping to confirm that! Thank you again – I will read this post a few more times just for the reminder. God bless you.

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    1. Bless you and I’m gonna pray for you. I know how you’re feeling. When so much was gone from me, all I could do was reach up and draw strength from God. You are in a season of growth and if you keep turning to God he will show you how very UNAlone you truly are and your life will fill with joy. May the God of peace pour his love and hope upon you.

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  5. You are so right, even as Christians though in our minds we know our main identity should be as daughter of God, co-heir with Christ, but our first immediate identity is tied with our roles as daughter, sister, wife, friend. My mum traveled and her been back is like having my best friend back in town. Honestly I can’t even imagine losing her. I pray that the God of all peace will continue to comfort you as I am sure u still miss her. The books and articles u ask for, do you want ones Christian/sociology/psychology perspective?

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  6. Beauty, beautiful post. thank you .
    we all tend to at one time or another experience what you live and live what you have experienced . I have learned in my life experience that we human beings as person are categorized an octavation, each one, and that octavation is comprised of body and soul . Body has four of faculty: mind heart spirit (attitude direction) and resolution . Soul has four in being: intellect memory will and resolve . all things we find within life experience of the body and life in the soul tend to cross reference, one or two or more, in conjunction or of disjunctive relegation to revealing the soul a “spiritual toil” or exposing the body, a work of “spirit.” my name is tim ishmael, I am an aspiring Roman Catholic hermit, living a dream to make within my humbler home a chapel, to lie prostrate before the Lord, that I forget my boast of self, to discover within holy way prayer, the ever present God above within, Holy Spirit, and the Christ resident within my body heart and my soul memory . I am labeled schizophrenic because I have had ethereal vision, mystical, since age 3, as intense suffering in my life has granted to my inner being crossroads diverse and faculty an essence defined of nuance explained . I am on Facebook, “tim ishmael, white caste, ” we learn as we grow older that art in life is lesser the expressive conjuring, as more so it becomes the contemplative art reveal, as talent, gift, character, a personality . pen name: Tobias Taoh

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  7. Brilliant blog. We all face these issues as we go through life, though of course it’s possible to push them away with busyness, or numb them with drugs, addictions, etc. Just keep on seeking, and you will find your inner treasure – the pearl behind all price. With love from Ruth XXXXXXXX

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  8. I really love this and the timing was so right, I’ve written a post called “what do you do “ because I lost my identity in the chaos of life and worked hard to find it again, I especially love how you ask “if you’d lose…” because most can relate to the feeling of if i lost my role as mom or dad or career title etc we would be lost! And this was so refreshing to read I’m not alone in this thought

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