I am 36 years old now, rapidly approaching middle age. The lines around my eyes are growing deeper, but the laughter is deeper too. There is a depth that comes with wisdom and error, joys and sorrows, loving and living.
Only two years ago I felt that I was having an identity crisis. I didn't know who I was anymore. All of those goals and dreams I had 10, 15 years ago - well, they weren't materializing like I had hoped. Life looked a lot differently than I had planned.
For one thing, I thought I would have a daughter. Instead, God blessed me with two sons - of whom I could not be happier or more blessed with. But it did take some readjusting to my original "plan." I thought we would be living somewhere else, less "city-like," similar to where I grew up, surrounded by trees and space. I thought we would own a sprawling two-story home, decorated to my heart's desire. As for my job, well, I thought I would be working in ministry- getting paid for it, of course - and traveling with my family for fun speaking engagements.
Instead, life happened. And it was good, but it was different.
With my husband and two boys, we have a small, rented house, paying thousands of dollars each year with no investment. They share a humble room, go to sleep in bunk beds each night, with toys sprawled everywhere. We live in the city, where the traffic never stops, the houses are close together, and we have to drive to find nature. Our furniture is 15 years old, much of it from Craigslist or given to us by friends. We drive two older cars that always seem to need a repair. As for my job, well, I didn't intend on editing photos instead of getting paid for ministry - but it does pay the bills. And the traveling? Well, once a year we try to go on a road trip.
Life has happened. And it is good, but different.
On good days, I realize I am so incredibly blessed. I see the hand of God on our lives, and I am thankful and content. I know He has led us here, I trust that He has a plan, and I follow His leading.
On other days, I sulk and pout. I wonder if I'll ever get some of the things I have dreamed of. I feel frustrated, limited. I wonder where God is in all of this, if I got it wrong somehow.
One perspective is of the Giver, and all we've been given. The other perspective is of the Getter, and all I haven't gotten.
I think we have identity crisis' when we're focused on ourselves - on our identity - and how it is different than what we hoped for. But that shows that our identity is wrapped up in all the wrong things- our position, our title, our image, our accomplishments, what we have or don't have. And don't get me wrong - I still have identity crisis' every few weeks or months. The second I start thinking about all I don't have yet, and how much everyone else has, and how disappointed I am, I feel like I'm having another identity crisis.
My challenge is to keep my identity so wrapped in Christ that I am no longer disappointed by what life hasn't brought me. The "Me, Me, Me" won't be a focus, but the "You, You, You, Jesus" will be the focus.
I hope that in my next 36 years that I will have finally found the key to being content, to finding my identity in Him.
Those dreams I had for my life? They weren't wrong, but some of them were definitely self-focused. I'm asking God now to give me His dreams instead.