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Welcome to the hectic years

Hi, I'm Mindi.

And this is our Hectic Life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chasing My Identity

For most of my life I thought I knew exactly who I was, and who I was meant to be. 
Part of my identity came from being a wife and a mother.  Part of my identity came from being an engineer.  But if someone were to ask me to define exactly who I was?  I would answer without hesitation.  I was wife to a wonderful military man, mother to four amazing children, and after that I was a design engineer for a fantastic company that made me proud just to be a part of it. 
But in the space of one painful solitary moment, a moment that changed my life forever, I was suddenly face to face with the question that I could no longer answer. 

The other half of me was gone and I was left wondering what my life was all about.  For a while I shrouded myself in grief and pity.  I climbed into a chasm, the deeper the better, and I lost myself in the solitude and darkness.  Somehow it was easier to lose hope than to face the fact that maybe life held something more, something far from the comforting familiarity that I had grown used to.  No longer was I part of a marriage, no longer was I the wife that I used to be, and now I was left with shattered pieces of a life that never would be again.

At some point I made the unconscious decision to pull myself out of the crevice in the earth where I had been buried for far too long.  My kids not only needed me, they needed me to smile and enjoy life right along with them.
Early on in my journey so many people told me that I needed time to find out who I was.  I thought I knew what they meant, I really did.  And I would tell them that outside of losing my marriage, my wedding bands, and the moral support that I needed to raise my children, I was unchanged.

I still believed that chocolate was a food group.  Ice-cream was another one.
The little things in life still managed to amaze me.  Even while struggling every day just to breathe, I was amazed at the beauty of God’s world that surrounded me.  The kids and I found time to dance in the kitchen, to sled down the park hill.  To take walks through the forest and bike rides down park paths.  For me, the insignificant moments have always converged together in an intricate design that made life worth living.  I was never hard to please, simple was always better and more meaningful.  If someone were to bring me a wildflower from the side of the road, that meant more than a bouquet of expensive roses.

I would turn to these well-wishers, these people who wanted to see me smile again, and tell them that I knew who I was.  Deep inside, I had not really changed much at all.  I still had a heart for animals and anyone less fortunate than I.  There still existed a fondness for clothes of bright colors and sparkles, because no matter what, I preferred to stand out rather than blend in.  I would turn to my friends and reassure them that I was on the right path, and I was going to be just fine.
Along the way I have come across others just like me.  Others struggling to find their place in this world, struggling to define their identity in one way or another.  There are those who start running, and as their feet pound the pavement and their lungs burn from the pain, they are able to outrun the demons that are chasing them.  Others get tattoos, a symbol to remind them that they have faced the chasm in the earth, the darkness and the suffering, and have made it to the other side.  Still others turn to God, to His promises and the hope that He provides.  Some turn to writing, to the therapy that it provides, to using their words to understand exactly who they are.  There are some who choose not to find themselves but rather stay buried in the earth, dying inside, a victim of their own depression.

After about a year I decided that I was exactly where I needed to be.  I was doing okay, I was making it.  I had turned to God and read His word, and He promised me that I would know great happiness again.  I was back to being a mother to four amazing children and although I was no longer a wife, I was doing okay.  Supper was getting to the table and the kids were getting to school on time.  Homework was being done and the house was no longer a chaotic mess.  I was still an engineer getting up to go to work every day.  Everything was going to be okay.
But then something else happened, and I suddenly found myself right back in the depths of the chasm I had dug for myself a year earlier.  And as I sat there at the bottom, staring at the sliver of light above me, I wondered how this could happen.  I had survived things I hoped my children never had to face.  The pain of my heart being torn from my chest, the pain of tears that refused to stop.  Where did I go wrong?  Why was I back here?  Was there any point in trying again?

There was a question that still whispered incessantly at the back of my mind.  Who are you really?
This time, instead of thinking of my penchant for chocolate and frozen desserts, I started to contemplate more meaningful existence.  If I were only defined by the rings on my hand, or the children that I took care of every day, or the food that I ate and the places that I went, then I might have the ability to fall right back into the depression and hopelessness that would never stop chasing me.  I had to be something more than that.

I can’t really explain what happened next.  I really can’t.  I turned to God again, and for the first time I truly started to believe the words that He was telling me.  I wasn’t a believer because it was the right thing to do, I was a believer because it was the only thing to do.
And by finding the truth in the Word, the truth in the whisper of God in my ear, I was finally able to find myself.  That person was no longer defined by exercise or body art or bright orange pants, but something much deeper.  Something much more lasting.  Something much more real.

Now my familiar crevice in the earth, the one that held so much confusion and pain, the place where I had cried so many of my tears, is gone.  I no longer fear slipping back into that hole, because it is no longer there.  I am stronger, I am more real than I ever have been before.  And when I smile, I mean it.  I’m not hiding the agony in my heart.
But the most important thing that I have learned on this journey, this path in life that will probably never truly end, is that to answer that very basic question (who am I?) I had to let go of something important.

I had to let go of the person I used to be.

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