Identity

Sometimes I get very confused.

Who am I anymore?

Each of us is born with the legitimate longing to be known and understand. A child wants his mom to know when he hurts, or when he is happy, or when he is scared, sometimes not even for the words of comfort or praise that he knows will be reciprocated, but more because he wants to be known and understood. To not be understood and known catapults into the feeling of not being valued.

To know that someone understands you is like a damp cloth on a delirious brow, like a fresh breeze blowing after a rainstorm, or like steaming cocoa on a snowy day. It touches something deep inside of you that cannot be touched by anything else.

But no one can fully understand us. Ever.

Neither can we live in this world and be known by everyone around us for what we truly are. No one will ever fully understand our background, our thought patterns, our deepest struggles, even though they know us better than any other human.

And it hurts. It hurts to live in a world that does not understand you or know you or even tries to find out about you. Because all of us are like specks of dust in this life compared to eternity and compared to the vastness of the universe.

Do we really matter?

What gets really confusing is when I don’t understand myself anymore. Sometimes after living in another country for so long, it is hard to know who you really are. Am I the Lori who lived at home in Kansas and taught school and milked cows and penned poetry on the back of dairy records while milking? Or am I the Lori who rides a motorbike for transportation and teaches three year olds the ABC’s and sings the doxology in Thai at the end of every Sunday service?

I can never fully understand myself either.

There are three parts of identity, and all of them seem to be closely intertwined. One is our physical identity- our name, our face, our physique. The next is our soul- our mind, will and emotions, our personality. The last one, the deepest and hardest to understand, is our spiritual identity. When one of these three is affected by the outside world, the others are affected as well.

The identity of my soul is what feels dethroned right now. I am not who I was, neither will I ever be that person again. Can I accept that?

But I’ve listened to too many voices telling me who I am. It’s time that I stop listening to them. While my soul needs to be understood and known (it’s a desire planted in when we are born), as long as I know the identity of my spirit- a child of God- then I can walk on, even when I do not understand the identity of my soul anymore.

The question God is asking me is this, “Am I enough?” Is God enough when dreams and desires lie on the bottom of our busy lives, untouched? Is God enough when no one else can fully understand? Is He enough when our souls are stifled for the sound of prairie winds and rustling grass and slow German hymns and horse hooves on blacktop highway? Is he enough when our body craves, craves, craves a juicy hamburger, or a T bone steak marinated in Italian dressing, grilled to perfection? Or when we long for the cold touch of snow kissing our cheek on a twilight winter evening?

He is. I believe He is. Oh God, help mine unbelief!

So when being a cultural bridge between two (or three) vastly different groups of people twists me about in ways that a bridge should not be twisted, I will listen to God.

When I am indescribably lonely for someone to sit and listen and say, “Uh huh, uh huh. Yes, I know exactly what you mean”, then I will listen to God.

When I long for a quiet pond to sit beside to soak up the silence of the night, I will listen to God.

I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.

Psalms 143: 6,8

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2 thoughts on “Identity

  1. You have written poignantly and beautifully, Lori. I, too, know the question of “who am I and where do I belong?” Only in God do our souls find true rest.

    Like

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