I think I’m experiencing an identity crisis.
Maybe I’ve just had too much time on my hands to ponder the inscrutability of life. Until recently I’ve been too busy to spend much time on self reflection. My husband graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary last year and then accepted his first call as an ordained ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) minister in June. Prior to that, our lives revolved around one clear goal: Get Brian through school.
I became the main breadwinner for the household so that he could focus on his six year educational and spiritual journey. During this time he completed a bachelor’s degree and then attended four years of seminary. My own days were filled with work and parenting. We were too busy to think about the future in anything other than the most abstract of terms. Then he answered his first call to pastor a church and our lives abruptly changed in a whirlwind of activity. We packed up all we owned and headed out to a new town. Suddenly everything was new – happily so – but nonetheless, the comfort of familiarity had left.
For me, the biggest transition has been leaving full time employment. Please don’t misunderstand me. I choose to remain unemployed outside the home. If I wanted to return to paid work, I would – and I know that I would enjoy my husband’s unconditional support if I did so. It’s just that I’ve lost that handy label that employment offers. When people ask me what I do, I’m perplexed. I don’t even know how to refer to myself. Stay-at-home mom? Pastor’s wife? I described myself as a “household engineer” elsewhere on this blog, but I confess I spent hours trying to think of a more apt descriptor. The effort failed me. Maybe it’s just not a great idea to try to sum up your existence in a two word catch phrase.
The search for meaningful identity is so common that we have clichéd phrases to describe it: ‘midlife crisis’ and ‘finding yourself’ spring quickly to mind. I expect that everyone walking around this planet has paused at some point to ask “What am I here for?” I don’t have all the answers yet, but I take comfort in the fact that the God who created me did so with a purpose. Psalm 138, verse 8, says “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me, your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
I may not know who I am anymore. But that’s okay – because God does and I trust that he’ll fill me in on the details when I need them. And to that I let out a big sigh of relief and say “Thanks be to God!”