Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Change Me

[what's brewing: I'll have tea...not!...I'm still Coffeegirl, that will never change]

Last week’s post about the winds of change that have been blowing in my life went out with some anxiety on my part, and your gracious and encouraging responses have been much appreciated in light of that. Change is hard, and not just when it’s the result of difficult circumstances. Changes that result from desirable circumstances – like ministry growth and even the arrival of little “coffee beans” (loved that phrase from last week!) – can still be hard to go through, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Changes in roles and responsibilities are often accompanied by a sense of loss of identity.

I often construct my sense of identity out of the roles I fill or the activities I’m involved with; so when those basic elements are changed, I feel unsettled and insecure. I feel like a child wanting to cling to a security blanket that will reassure me of who I am despite my changing circumstances. I know that many of the roles and responsibilities that I take on are the result of God-given abilities. I also know that my reliance upon them can quickly cross the line and move into the prideful realm of self-reliance.

Isn't it far too easy to go beyond the God-intended parameters of understanding our gifts and abilities as extensions of our true identity in Him and to instead see our roles and responsibilities as the lone source of our identity?

Grief and loss over changes in our lives are healthy and necessary processes. I have experienced the consequence of stifling or ignoring the significance of change in my life. So with the acknowledgement of the importance of grieving the losses that result from change, I would also suggest that a good litmus test of where I am drawing my identity from is the degree of distress that results from having my role or responsibilities stripped away from me. On some level, the values of this world have led me to equate value with capacity and identity with accomplishments.

Do I really believe myself to be just as valuable, just as loved and just as useful to the Lord when I am only capable being with Him as when I am able to accomplish, attain and achieve masses of work for Him?

By extension, can I confidently say that I value the lives of the incapacitated beggars on the streets as much as the efficient and productive leaders of society? It’s the same influence that kept the devoted Jews waiting for a valiant messiah when the King of Glory was instead born in a humble stable and laid into a manger. The true identity of the Messiah was clouded by the role he assumed.

So my prayer as I have been blown about by the winds of change on many fronts over the past few months has been that I would not just endure these changes, but that I would be changed by them. I want to be changed by the experience of laying certain things down and opening new doors of possibility. I want to reaffirm my true identity above any other role or responsibility that I have carried up until now.

Missionary, counselor, director, leader, teacher, writer, wife and mother are simply roles that I fill.

Redeemed child of the Creator is my identity. I long for that to be the ultimate satisfaction of my being.


Ellie said...

Change is tough, even good change. Having gone through so much change, both for the worse and now for the better, recently, I'm learning to find who I am in the God who sings in delight over me. Not because of what I do, but simply in delight because He loves me.

There is freedom in knowing that. It may be a freedom that is found through very difficult things, but there is freedom in it.

Who I am is a loved daughter of the King who delights me me.

Becky Aguirre said...

CoffeeGirl, muchas felicidades on the arrival of your baby! What a delight that will be to you and your husband...although definitely big changes for your family!

"...the values of this world have led me to equate value with capacity and identity with accomplishments." Motherhood and other ministry changes really hit me hard and I, too, struggled greatly with the question of identity...it is so good to be learning that my value does not come from accomplishments and capacity and that identity is not tied to what I 'do'. Thank you for your encouraging words today!

a56piano said...

Coffeegirl- you have certainly labelled the brew today. My bet is that many of your readers are facing some kind of change. (when was the last time we weren't?) For some, it's with anguish, others joy mixed with ... well... you get my drift. I, too, am here- not knowing yet where the wind will actually take us, or if we are just up in the air for a little spin and to be plopped right back where we are, only with a new sense of purpose.

Your comments about our validity and significance really hit home. I've been so struggling to know "what's up with this and where are we going and what are we supposed to do", that I can hardly breathe. The other day, I sensed deep within me that quiet voice of Spirit saying "when will I be enough for you, daughter". Oh, my. When will Father be enough - even if "I" never reach one more "for the Kingdom", even if I never achieve any of my dreams or goals... even if... I can SAY "he is enough" all day long. But... am I really 'with' that?
Sorry, i ramble. I don't have anyone to talk to here- so you got it today! Thanks! I hope that after you retire we can still hear from you once in a while - maybe you can put us onto your personal blog or something.

Michelle Abel said...

Your litmus test is spot on. I have been through what you describe several times - all out in the field balancing mission work with motherhood. I am a slow learner, and God had to push me a lot in the past 12 months before I learned that I just needed to sit back and be in the present for a while. I am doing that now and enjoying some peace (among the work and my daughters!). Soak up every minute as it happens when you receive the gift of your new baby. All the best, Michelle (in Mongolia)


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