Who am I?
When a life change means a loss of identity
Often the most difficult obstacles in starting over is a loss of identity. After 27 years as a missionary, Donna's move back to the U.S. left her in a painful period of "limbo" that resulted in grief and depression. On the mission field her role as missionary, videographer, Bible teacher, mother, and friend was the way she defined herself. After her move, she didn't have any of these responsibilities to provide her with an identity; even her children had grown and left her with an empty nest.
In time Donna's grief gave way to a new perspective. The move became an opportunity for Donna to reassess her goals, dreams, and relationship with Christ and with others. She writes, [The move] "allowed me the freedom in Christ to be who He wanted me to be! Now, rather than waking each morning with plans for video production... I wake with a clean slate and ask, ‘What do you have for me today, Lord?' Each day is an adventure! My desire is to walk so closely with Him that I will know that the promptings of my heart are from Him, and I can confidently respond to those prompts. I don't have to hang back in shyness, or hesitate, but can quickly and confidently act out of His love! I am no longer looking back, but looking forward each day with a deep joy."
Are you struggling with the loss of identity as a result of your move or a new stage in life? This is an opportunity to redefine yourself and make decisions as you take on new responsibilities and involvements.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Keep Your Focus on God
Spend time in prayer and in Scripture, asking God for direction.
Create a Personal Mission Statement
Often, after settling in, you'll find you have time on your hands. The calendar isn't filled with all of the things you were involved in before. Take this opportunity to spend time creating a personal mission statement. Approach this prayerfully and ask yourself questions like:
For what purpose did God create me?
What are my unique, God-given qualities?
What is God calling me to accomplish?
Reflect on scripture to seek God's perspective for purpose in your life. The website urbana.org has helpful suggestions for creating a Christian personal mission statement.
Plan According To Your Personal Mission Statement
Review your decision-making in the past. Were there decisions that you made based upon the expectations of others? Were there decisions that you regret? This move can be a great opportunity to approach decisions (community involvement, friendships, healthful lifestyle, etc.) with greater wisdom and a desire to plan according to your personal mission statement.
Embrace Opportunities for Direction and Enrichment
Let's face it, new communities and involvements are going to provide a different environment for you. It may take some time to adjust if the community or involvement you left behind is still tugging at your heart. Approach each moment, encounter, and experience with the knowledge that God is directing your path and these are opportunities for direction and enrichment.
Expand Your Comfort Zone
Be open to trying new things as opportunities arise. Often times, the hardest part is just picking up the phone or making a commitment to go. Put aside any excuses and begin today!
Expand Your Talents
What is something that you've always wanted to try or to be better at? Why not take that college class, a music lesson, or join that book club or women's group? Look into it! Do something that can take you one step closer to expanding your talents.
Examine Your God-Given Gifts and Abilities
Seek an opportunity to use your gifts and abilities in your community. Ask those close to you for input as they may provide an insight you hadn't considered. Contact local schools, community centers, church, etc. and offer your skills.
Join An Outreach
Commit yourself to a cause about which you feel passionate. Research the causes available in your community. Search for ideas by using an internet search engine. Type in your town and state and then add a keyword to it such as: volunteer, clubs, organizations, activities, calendar, newcomer's club.
Be Good To Yourself
Get the beauty makeover that you've been thinking about. Ask women whose look you admire where they get their hair cut. (Yes, you can ask a stranger! Any woman would be flattered to be told her style was admired!) Go to a stylist and ask for a style that would be fabulous without a lot of fuss. Add highlights for a lift to your existing color or try a new color altogether! Department store makeup counters often apply their makeup for free! Ask them for tips and new trends.
Just Savor The Chaos!
Don't wait until you have all of your "ducks in a row" to get involved. Gathering information and weighing opportunities is important, but at some point you just have to jump in and move forward with your life!