I have been meaning to write about identity for a long time. It is the topic I have struggled and battled with personally for so long. And I cannot think of any other way to explain it than through my personal life journey so far to the most recent discovery of my identity.
I don't really know why I was the target, but elementary school and middle school were awful for my little heart. I was the quiet nice girl. So, I was the target of awful awful teasing. My mom said I would just come home crying all the time. I could never be mean back and I am still thankful for that. I remember a girl actually telling the entire 5th grade class to not talk to me and they all listened. Just because I was the new girl. I remember reading an old journal entry saying that I had no friends. So sad. I really would have been such a nice friend to someone. I know once I got to middle school which was my first time in a public school, I was instantly made fun of because I was the pastors kid. I remember someone calling me a b**** the first time they met me and I had never even said a word than maybe "hello" to them - in 7th grade. I was made fun of because I didn't swear, because I didn't make out with boys in 7th grade. Seriously, soooo silly. I was called a poser once because I had the same shoes on as someone else. I never even knew they owned them. Anyways, let me tell you. It was no fun, those years. I just wanted to be at home with my loving family.
Then something shifted in about 10th grade. I started to run. I made varsity soccer in 10th grade after being off a year with my knee surgery and I ran. I ran and ran and ran, and I never stopped, it seemed. I started to get in shape. I started to get really skinny. Then guys began to have little crushes on me and it felt nice. I didn't date any of them until my junior year if I recall. I found the "perfect" guy that everyone thought was nice and cute and we proceeded to date for 3.5 years. I started to feel amazing and I started to stop eating. The lack of nutrition was never encouraged by anyone close to me but complements from outsiders surely fed into my ways. My family and my boyfriend's family kept a steady eye on me as I look back, but dating this guy, and staying as skinny as I could started to become my purpose and my obsession. I would wake up at 5:30am and take a short 3 mile run on the treadmill before school. After school I would either go to soccer practice or go on a 5 mile run. If I ate something crappy, I would run again. I wouldn't go out somewhere unless I had my run in. I would run in blizzards. NO JOKE. Like a Western New York snowstorm. Ok, so sometimes I miss that motivation. I would run on Holidays or else I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy the day. I then got to be soccer captain and somehow got Homecoming Queen. I got soccer awards naming me the "energizer bunny award" and "the forest gump award" . It felt good and from an outsider I looked like I had it all together but on the inside I was dieing. I just wanted to somehow feel ok if I wasn't perfect at something, but I just never could. My high school relationship soon blossomed into marriage talk in my first few years of college. Then God clearly told me in one moment that he was not the one and that as we were good for each other he had our lives on different paths and he would have people even better than we thought. Heartbreaking to say the least but probably the best thing that ever happened to me. After I moved a state away I had to deal with these insecurities. I was no longer a girlfriend to the popular guy, I was no longer able to find the motivation run more than once a day. I was confused and spent many nights on my bed in dark depression just crying out to God for answers. In the midst of all this, he began to put new passions on my heart and I started to see outside of my tiny little world. I started to discover more of him, outside of my church denomination, outside of my frame of thought. I grew a heart for the poor and for the nations. With many missions trips to follow, molding me in so many ways, the World Race strikes me as one that will have forever changed me. The girls on that trip did not allow any negative talk about ourselves for the year we were together. By the end, I learned my identity to be in Christ. My identity is not in any title other than that I am God's Redeemed Daughter. THAT will never change. Any other title I have has the potential to change but I will always have a place in God's kingdom. I will always be loved and given an outpouring of grace. I can make mistakes and I don't have to be perfect. I married a man who has challenged me in many ways. He does not allow false identities to come into my mind. I for once can say I feel no need to comment on my weight in a way as to degrade myself. I can go without running for a while and be just fine. It took years to break this. YEARS! It has only been in the most recent months that I have felt this secure in who I am. I have never been more joyful even when I am not perfect to the world. I know my God loves me and that is what matters. It is a freedom I longed for and I Know it now. YAY!