How Do You Define Yourself?

Not to overdramatize (although I realize that I am) – but it feels like God has taken away my children, my job and may soon be taking away my house – all in the space of a little over a year. In my head I know this is not true. In my heart, however, it feels that way.

Last fall both girls left home for college which is right and good and as it should be. If we parented correctly they should be moving away from home and toward independence at a rapid pace. I know that I will always be their mom and that they will always need me. But it is different. I am needed less. And frankly, “parenting” adult children is hard. Hard to find the balance and define my new role – how much is too much, how little is too little and how much is juuust right?

For the last 20 years I chose to define myself as a stay-at-home mom. Take away the kids and I became like a car that was trying to drive with only 3 wheels. So, I poured myself into my job and filled the empty places with work. A job that for 18 years had given me a great income, an opportunity to be around lots of people and for which I had enjoyed many perks and accolades.

Fast forward to May when both my husband and I felt a clear call for me to move towards seminary and ministry full time. Which meant quitting a job that paid well and which I had allowed to define me over the last 18 years. What am I left with? A 2-legged car wobbling along unsure of where it is going and how to get there.

Which leaves my last security blanket - our house of 23 years. The joke at our house is that my husband is just supposed to bury me in the back yard under the petunias when I pass because after many years and many renovations our home is finally just the way we like it. In many ways I have allowed my house to define me which is neither healthy, nor good, nor right. We came here and raised our daughters here and is it feels like a living, breathing part of our family.

In today’s job market we may just need to leave our house behind if God opens the door to the right career opportunity in another city.  Which leaves me with a car analogy that has run out of gas. Left with one wheel on the side of the road going nowhere.

But what if, WHAT IF I allow God to turn that one wheeled, broken down car into a unicycle that can carry me on to untold blessings, challenges and adventures.  What if I move forward, older & wiser, realizing that at different points and in different ways I have allowed my family, my job, and my house to matter too much and my relationship with God – not enough.

What if I let go of my pride in my family, my abilities and my material things and truly realize (deep down, where it matters) that none of these are mine anyway and that all of them in every way belong to God. And what if I moved forward from here with a life completely surrendered to God, hands unclenched and open, praying with all that I have and all that I am “I will do anything Lord. Anything.”