Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? You just lay there with terror, literally struggling to survive as your body scrambles to remember how to breathe. Its an awful helpless feeling.
I can remember it happening a few times as a kid on the playground.. One time in particular I remember watching my friend getting bullied AGAIN, and deciding to ride the adrenaline this time and make the playground terrorist wish he'd stayed home that day.... it was only after regaining my breath while looking at the sky... i had only one thought...I really wished i had NOT worn a dress that day. Or another time, with the image of a feather clad Brave Native American Warrior in my mind... I leapt off my grandmas neighbors impossibly tall fence, onto the back of the biggest, prettiest, fastest horse in the pasture. I don't think I even got a full 8 seconds on that wild bucking bronco before i was gasping for air from the bottom of the pasture clutching the grass for dear life. It seems funny now, even a bit exciting. Of course the adventure is the focus when I retell this story, but the pain was real in the moment. Today I wish things were as straightforward as those stories that I tell my kids.
I have been going through personal struggles that have pulled the rug out from underneath me. It has come like a punch to the core... so hard that it knocks the wind from my lungs... but without the fun heroic story to tell at the end. And I've been left gasping... unsuccessfully, for what seems like an eternity.... but in the grand scheme must only be a few terrifying moments. In this time when my world is spinning out of control around me, I am confronted with a very basic fundamental question: Who am I? What am I worth?
Where does our identity come from? What happens when you receive comfort and affirmation and acceptance and validity and security from other flawed humans? What happens when they turn their attention elsewhere? Be it work, or hobbies, or a beautiful woman, or an addiction, or friends. What happens if the one you love betrays you for another? What when you leave all that you know in pursuit of what you could know… when the entire construct of your life rearranges before your very eyes? When you lose your job? When your child moves away? What then of your security and your identity? Could it really be that fragile that it is based on something you cannot control nor anticipate? Something as whimsical as the weather. Something that does not even know it’s own motives, it’s own intentions, it’s own fickle heart… What delusion we must subscribe to in order to receive anything vital to our mental and emotional existence… from something temporary and unreliable?
What if instead we derived all of those things... all of those Essential ingredients to a healthy and whole woman… from something more? What if we look to a creator God, an all knowing, all compassionate, all gracious, all empowering, never changing, all encompassing, Creator God? Do You know who I mean? I'm talking about The One that created the weather, The One that created man, The One that created Your heart with all its intricacies with all its complexities, knowing full well that the same heart would be wounded, betrayed, discarded, misused, mistreated and battered along the way. But knowing full well that He could fix the broken and damaged places if only we would allow it.
What if we got our identity in Him? What could shake us then? Could sickness, could the trials of life, could tragedy, could death, could financial ruin, could broken relationships, could our fluctuating size, or "imperfect" weight, or dress size, or hair color, or naïve Youth, or increasing Age, or crinkles on our forehead, under our eyes, age spots on our hands, stretch marks on our bellies, veins on our legs, Or even the beauty of another... that perceivably surpasses our own? Could the loss of a job, child, a career, a spouse, a dream… Could these unpredictable, unreliable, ever-changing things destroy our hope if our identity is firmly rooted in THE Unchanging, All Loving God?
So Im gong to ask YOU, hopefully before tragedy comes. Do you know who you are when all else fails?
Feel free to share your own struggles and victories in the comments below, someone might read your words of encouragement, and be forever changed.
*This post was written in spring 2018 when I was struggling with these questions, and a year later I find myself at a different place entirely but still asking some of these same questions of myself as we have moved our family across the ocean, rebuilding everything from the ground up.