This is the start of my newest piece for Today’s Christian Woman, and it is about something I felt so deeply after my daughter was born: the fear of losing my identity. My hope is that these words can encourage not only fellow moms, but anyone who feels displaced or confused by their current season–because the good news is that in Christ, we can’t ever lose who we truly are.
When I was in college, I had a lot of friends who told me that what they really wanted to do in life was be a mom. Yes, they were getting degrees and they wanted to work, but really, their highest hope was to become a mother.
I nodded and affirmed them. I hoped that one day I would become a mom, too—but I never really knew how to respond to their longing for children. I’d never felt that; what I did feel was a desire to pursue other things—dreams of writing and teaching and speaking—and I wasn’t sure when having kids might fit into my life.
Perhaps that is part of the reason why, at first, becoming a mom was so difficult for me. I had gone on to teach and write and speak . . . and then I became a mom. Once she arrived, I loved my daughter fiercely and relentlessly. But I also felt that I had somehow misplaced my identity—my very self—in the process of becoming a mom, and, like a missing wallet, I felt waves of panic when I couldn’t find it, no matter how hard I looked.
I felt subsumed by motherhood. I couldn’t get my bearings; I couldn’t find my footing. Without the trappings of my former life, my identity was deeply shaken. When I didn’t have time to read and study, or when I didn’t have margin to talk with my husband for uninterrupted hours, I felt misplaced. When I didn’t have the emotional energy to meet with a friend for coffee and discuss our faith and our friendship, it was then that I felt that I was losing myself. Add to that the exhaustion I experienced, the raw responsibility I carried for another’s life, and the unrelenting needs that my daughter had, and I felt like I was drowning.
I remember looking at our living room one day: my daughter’s burp cloths and toys were scattered around the space, and a stack of papers was waiting on the coffee table for me to grade. Who was I? I knew, intellectually, that I could say that I was a mom, and I was a wife, and I was a teacher. But who was I now, really? Nothing felt the same. My life had been rearranged when my daughter was placed in my arms. Where was the Ann I knew before I became a mom?
Losing to Gain
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus tells his followers that in order to truly find your life, you have to lose it. This is a radical, upside-down statement, and it jars me every time I read it. Because what Jesus is saying here tosses my idea of identity very far out of the proverbial window.
What the Bible tells me is this: Losing my life for Christ’s sake is actually a good thing. It’s not something to be feared. And in truth, I hadn’t actually lost myself in my new role as a mom. Did it feel like it? Certainly. I felt confused and disoriented as a mother. But motherhood didn’t actually change my identity; it simply stripped me down to the marrow of my existence by altering the external circumstances of my life.
Read the rest of the article here, at Today’s Christian Woman!
Related blog post: He is our Brave