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Close Call with an Identity Crisis

Mom. That’s my name. At least it has been for the last twenty-two years. But recently, after packing up our youngest kid a month ago and dropping her in a tiny college dorm room five hours away, I’ve been feeling a bit… confused.

Right or wrong, and completely unapologetically, I admit that my world has pretty much revolved around my kids for a very, very long time. Their needs. Their schedules. Their sports. Their school. Their friends. Their problems. Their accomplishments. And truly, I loved it. Really loved it. But then, out of the blue, all three of them did the unthinkable: they went ahead and grew up. Now, they’re big people. Young adults. Yesterday they were running around my house in footie pajamas and now they’re moving out and moving on. And I’m oh-so proud of them. Completely excited for their futures. But I just have one question… Who am I now?

So... the kids have left home and you couldn't be more proud.... except who are you know? Individually and as a couple, it's time to find your footing and learn how to navigate and enjoy the season to come after kids.

I’m a cheerleader. Not that I didn’t root for my kids before, encouraging them when things got tough, lifting them up when they were down, but I also had to be coach, manager and referee. Blowing that whistle as I reprimanded, guided, penalized and directed. It was my responsibility to lead them and to teach them in the way they should go. Now, as I watch these young adults go out into the world and make their own way, I listen, I care and I pray, just like always, but in a role that has definitely changed. And my pom-poms are getting a lot of use. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

I’m a helpmate. During the mommy years, I’m thankful to say I never stopped loving my husband.  But. Yes, there’s a but. But… I didn’t always keep him first. It was a mutual decision; we both wanted to be parents and we both wanted to give it our all. So we did. Now, I am amazed at the opportunity I have to be a wife again. We haven’t dated, talked, or spent time together like this since we were newlyweds. We hike every weekend. We’re planning trips. We bought bikes. Is there a word for this? Is oldie-weds a thing?  A wife of noble character who can find… her husband has full confidence in her… she brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

I’m a servant of Jesus. For years I put off jumping into ministry, committing to big church projects, or the idea of joining a missions trip. I know some women have trouble saying no; I never did. I had zero guilt focusing on my number one job (as both a stay-home mom and a working mother), completely confident in my decision to keep my already full parenting plate from getting overloaded. “I’m sorry,” I would say, “I’ve got three kids at home. I couldn’t possibly.” Currently, I’m rediscovering the time, energy and freedom to serve others and follow Him wherever He leads. How cool is that? Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

I’m a child of God. This one is my favorite. My world is changing, but one thing remains the same: I am His and He is mine. No matter what season we’re headed into, God’s love for us is there, waiting. His promises remain. His plans are sovereign. His grace is sufficient. His Word is true. Nowadays, when the house feels too quiet, when I miss the hustle and bustle of kids, when my identity feels unclear or I’m perplexed by what role I play, I rest in the joy that a new season, with its new names and identities, can bring. Fresh opportunities to encourage, to help, to serve and to love. And there’s nothing confusing about that. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


Kathryn O’Brien

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One Comment

  1. When our first and only agenda in life is the establishment of intimate personal communion with God and engage Him as such for the sole purpose of serving His pleasure, all uncertainty about who we are and the purpose for our continued existence evaporates no matter what our circumstances may become. It is to this occupation alone which God beckons us in our lives so relentlessly. Our being bound to God in this manner incidentally, is our participation in precisely the same communion of perfection of which we will partake in Heaven. It is the same communion with Him from which we were always intended to allow all else of value in our lives to rise from the very time of our creation. In case you fail in recognition of what I am describing, it is no less than the pursuit of our entry into the life with God we call sainthood. Why is it that our expectation is most often that our entry into sainthood must wait until we die when we are identified in scripture even now as saints among the living? When our communion of intimacy with God is established, knowledge of our true identity is more than assured not only by assumption but by the unassailable conviction which soon permeates us as we find ourselves sustained in the knowledge of being face to face with Him despite our false expectations that such is not to be expected of Him. In this manner we are enabled of the freedom to embrace our salvation just as it has been provided to us as a result of the death and resurrection of our Savior, rather than attempting justification by our pitiful “spiritual” accomplishments in the face of the “unfathomable” God. Our accomplishments are incapable in themselves of providing any certain path to Heaven no matter how steeped virtue we may regard ourselves to be. This is why we are in need of a Savior in the first place. If any one of us is in possession of the means of salvation, there is no need of a Savior. Fortunately for us, the miracle of salvation is just that, a miracle, and no transformation or human accomplishment, no matter how virtuous or how great in the regard of men, can can begin to accomplish our salvation in the eyed of God. Remember the good thief crucified next to Jesus and learn. His case was no anomaly as most of us think. He passed through the narrow gate without even bragging rights. How will you attempt the passage?

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