i·den·ti·ty (n): the fact of being who or what a person or thing is
One day last week I woke up a little after 6:15 am and began my typical morning routine, as usual. Yet in the midst of my cup of coffee and breakfast, I proceeded to change clothes at least five times. Just to go to the gym. (Why are women’s athletic clothes so tight anyways?) Then I was walking around the house, clearly unhappy about something. As my husband and I were walking into the gym, poor thing, he knew I was having a rough morning and was trying his best to cheer me up, telling me how beautiful I was. But I snapped at him, of course, as a typical hormonal mess would do.
My poor husband. They say the men often get left out of the pregnancy experience, but I would beg to differ. They experience many things, just not the cool parts like carrying around a little human inside you.
I’ve been having a really difficult time with the body changes of pregnancy. And it doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself, or others tell me, how growing life inside me is a gift and miracle and more important than the changes on the outside, it’s still hard. You see, I understand all of these things, cognitively. But there is occasionally a break down between a person’s mind and heart. I always hear the Apostle Paul in my head when I recognize this, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
Yet now that I was acutely aware of how this was bothering me, I became even more frustrated that it was bothering me to this degree. I would have conversations with myself like, “Randi, get it together. You are not vain. You do not care if others think you are chubby, not that they do. This is stupid. You will regain your fit figure in a few months. Chill. Out.”
But then a soft voice spoke to my heart and revealed the root of the issue, an issue I didn’t even know was an issue until now. And I was appalled. I had began to place part of my identity in my physical appearance. I found comfort in my “fit-ness” and the way my clothes fit. And that was slipping through my fingers. Then I panicked even more, “Oh my gosh, how selfish. Are you going to teach your son this vain selfishness?”
Because you see, I understand that my identity isn’t found in my physical appearance, nor my bank account, nor my career, nor my talents or ambitions, nor my marriage, nor will it be found in my being a mother. Those are parts of me, but they aren’t what make me. And I think this is a very important lesson to learn, and constantly re-learn.
It goes back to the idea that if all of the attributes that are parts of you were taken away (your spouse, children, home, job, health, interests, etc.), what would you be left with? Would there be anything left? We often think our identity is in the things we do with who we are, but I like to think it’s founded in something more. This seems to be especially challenging for mothers. Because motherhood is extremely important, extremely difficult, and all-encompassing. You put so much into raising your children that it’s easy to lose yourself in that all-important role. But mothers with stedfast identities teach their children a depth to the world and it’s meaning, and I want that.
(Side Note: For a dramatic and profound example of this, read the Book of Job.)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)