Identity Crisis of Faith

by - July 28, 2009

In the past 28 months, I've been pregnant for just under 50% of the time, with one healthy boy to show for it. Of the time I was not pregnant, I was sleep deprived for about 25-30% of the time. Part of that time was coupled with feeling nearly driven over the edge by insomnia. So to ask me, "are things getting back to normal?", I'd have to ask you, "normal as in sleep deprived adjusting to being a new mama normal or normal as in pre-hormonal roller coaster normal?", because I am not sure that I can ever return to normal or even know what my new normal is. The past 28 months have been anything but normal, but I am definitely settling into whatever this is.

The old normal extends back 2 1/2 years to just before I was wrapping up writing and defending my dissertation. I was all about two things really: school and pottery. Okay, maybe there was a third obsession. I was preoccupied with answering the following: How do I reconcile the implications of earning a PhD in Engineering with the implications of wanting to be a stay at home mom? In fact, throughout pregnancy I struggled with answering that question and trying to wrap my heart and head around this complete shift in how I viewed my own value as a wife and an individual. Was being a mom enough? Was folding laundry as important as doing research? Was I wasting my education? Would I ever rebound from the sudden brain loss of pregnancy? (NO. I have only lost more since!) Would I still respect myself?

Three years before this, I was struggling to reconcile my love for international missions and its abandoned path due to Joe's leaving seminary and his strong belief that we were supposed to live in Raleigh, NC. I had spent two summers in Romania before we got engaged, and Joe had entered a seminary program that would send us to China or India for two years. I thought it was our mutual desire and calling to missions that initially drew us together. It took me six months into our marriage to finally embrace that the depth of my faith and the importance of my calling was not equal to the grandeur of the actions I was taking to live it out. Rather my love of Christ was only to be deepened by the continued recognition and surrender of my own pride and recognition that a faith that cannot be lived out in the mundane ins and outs of a normal day, in a normal job, doing normal things is indeed no faith at all.

Now my normal is struggling to reconcile my ideas of what a good mother is and does with how I mother. I was a future mom of two, and now I am back to being a mom of one. I absolutely love my current place in life but desire to expand the family and am not sure I am a good enough mom to handle it. I toss around ridiculous questions. Does having two miscarriages in four months make me less of a woman? Is it bad that I am really enjoying not being pregnant and my new-found freedoms as Scooby grows? Gosh, I sure hope my performance rating as a mom is not indirectly proportional to the number of boo boos Scooby has incurred or directly proportional to the number of books we read this week. Being a student was great, I got grades for everything and I knew exactly where I stood. No one says, "B plus work, mama. Why don't you work on expanding your repertoire of daily play activities? Oh, and maybe try to ease off on the Little Debbie Brownies..." Obviously, this is a completely ridiculous train of thought. God has given me the child I need and given Scooby the mama he needs. My calling is to train him and raise him up with a proper perspective of God and his own identity so that he will be prepared to through his own life's changes, transitions and struggles and come out with a deep faith and love for Christ. The only way to assess whether or not I've succeeded is to watch his life. Proverbs 22: 6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." The food, books, play activities and parenting styles are important, but not what I should be centering motherhood on.

So you see, normal for me is the endless struggle, no matter what place in life I am in, to have a correct view of my identity and to understand that my value is not purely tied to gifts, abilities, and what I am doing. The deal is, I could let my identity be driven by my successes and failures and the importance of my work in the eyes of society. However, that is a frightening road to travel on. There are far more failures than successes and there are always people doing a better job. The other road is the one of surrender. I surrender my own school of thought and view of my worth for what God says about me. It does not excuse me from working my tail off at the tasks He has set before me, but now the motivation for those tasks is not achievement or praise or comparison to other people, but obedience and love. 2 John 1:6 says, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." I find this incredibly freeing. I thrived in school, but I was constantly living in fear and anticipation of that number on the top of the page. It's about time I quit trying to grade myself on life and placing my identity in anything but God's love for me.

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  1. Paige, thank you for your moving words. Enjoy your increasing freedom, and keep the brownies coming!

    Also, as I take a look at my scarred arms, legs, and chin, I'm thinking if the amount of boo-boos a child has is related to one's level of success as a mother, maybe we need to give Aunt Jenny a call!!

    Tell Daniel and Joe hello for me!

    Love, sally b

  2. "normal for me is the endless struggle"

    I love this post. I love that I am surrounded by so many mamas who are seeking quality things. Thanks for pointing me to Jesus! And if you ask me, you get an A+ !

  3. Amen, Paige! Your last paragraph says it all! It's not about who we think we should be, but who God calls us to be ... and that's a woman, wife and mother that loves Jesus with everything that we are and that can show that same love to our families (regardless of what our circumstance is). I blogged about the need for rest and renewal the other day in regards to the daunting task of being the woman that God has called me to be. Feel free to take a read and I hope Colossians 1:9-13 gives you the encouragement and freedom that it gave me!



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