Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Identity

As I've continued to ask God why He has called us back from our attempt to join Wycliffe as full-time missionaries, I've had an insight that I wanted to share.

Early in college I identified what I felt was a calling to missions, and I prepared for it throughout my college years (my degree was in the role I wanted to fulfill on the mission field, and I spent each summer in a different overseas missions project, trying out different options). I married Cynthia because she identified that she felt a call to missions on her life, too, and was willing to live such a life with me. Each stage of my employment experience was chosen with the intent to prepare myself for what I expected to do in missions, until I was working as a paid employee for Wycliffe in Orlando. For all this time (8 years or so), my personal self-image was more and more set into this being what I wanted to be: a full-time cross-cultural missionary. That's who I thought of myself as.

Now, that personal identity is gone; not going to be possible, at least in the foreseeable future. I was forced to realize that I didn't have much to replace it. I would have never said it, but the idea of being "just" an ordinary person living an ordinary life seemed rather boring to me. Nothing wrong with it, just not for me. Now, here I am, with that being the only path I see before me. What kind of an identity is it to just be doing the same things as everyone else?

But that's not what my identity is supposed to be: I'm supposed to find my identity not in what I do, but in my relationship with God. The fulfillment of being His child and knowing Him is all I'm supposed to look to for my identity. I've heard this before, but it didn't really sink in. When I get wrapped up in thinking of myself as special and gifted and impressive, a change of direction such as I experienced is quite a shock. I realize, though, that it was likely the only jolt that could've forced me into finding my self-image in how God sees me. I guess it was a lesson I needed to learn.
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