I am staring down the barrel of my and my husband’s 30 year high school class reunion. In my experience, reunions, while very fun, are fraught with myriad pressures. Some are admittedly superficial in nature: What will I find to wear that strikes the right balance between classy, cool, and not trying too hard? Can I lose 20 lbs. before then? Do I look that old, really? Am I as cute as those “popular” girls are now? And some are slightly less superficial: What do I even say when people ask what I DO? Since I’ve been home with my illness, my kids’ response when asked what I do has been something like this: “Well, she watches a lot of Netflix, she knits, and she cooks.” Doesn’t sound so very prestigious or impressive when you frame it in those words, does it? Not that it’s entirely inaccurate.
It’s a strange thing, taking time to consider one’s identity at this age. I’ve identified myself in many different ways during the course of my life: Ken & Bonnie’s daughter, student, Tim’s/Ken’s/Rickey’s little sister, James’ wife, musician, weight loss counselor, marketing director, stay at home mom, women’s ministry director, freelance interior designer, teacher, student council advisor, executive assistant. Lots of identities. Isn’t it interesting, though, that so many of the ways I’ve identified myself (and, I suspect, others identify themselves) are based on what one does, one’s vocation, or what fills one’s time. Is that really who we ARE?
In this peculiar time of my life there’s not that much doing in my world. Yes, I’m still a mom and I stay at home. However my kids are 20 and 17 ½, so being a stay at home mom carries a bit of a different vibe than 15 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. As with many other parts of my life, this radical change in lifestyle because of my illness has changed the way I see myself. I DON’T want to be identified based on my illness, although it is part of me.
But I am now finding my identity more and more in my relationships, who I AM, whose I am, rather than in what I do. Being over doing. Character over activity. Based on that view, I am finding a new way to identify myself. I am a forgiven and blessed child of God. I am a wife to a wonderful man, one with whom I share an amazing love and this incredible adventure called married life. I am a mom to two kids I adore, people I would love even if they weren’t mine. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, blessed with incredible people who walk with me through all the beautiful and difficult things. I am one who is ready to listen and to laugh. I am one who finds the humor in hard things and tries to extend grace. I am a student of life and a reader of books.
I still don’t know what I’ll say at the reunion when asked what I do, but I think I won’t care as much about that as I once would have. Maybe, instead, I think I ‘ll smile, remember who I AM and whose I am, and turn the conversation to ask what THEY do.