Sometimes we go through things that change our world so much we think we’ve somehow landed on Mars. Or some planet that is most definitely not ours. Because who we know we are doesn’t seem to translate anymore, and it’s supremely disorienting.
The following is a hypothetical situation. Maybe you won’t identify with it at all, but more likely you will:
Things have been a little rough lately, but you’ve figured out how to manage. You’ve built your little house of cards that’s missing a wall, but if you prop up certain others just right, it manages to stay put. As long as no light winds blow your way, you won’t fall apart. And that’s what’s most important.
But then the wind is forecast. It’s less of a light one and more of a tornado. The sweet spot in your job where everyone likes you and your boss is always happy with your work and your goals are on target starts to turn sour when you’re passed up for the promotion you were counting on. At the same time, your mom calls you and tells you she has breast cancer. Not only is this devastating because you love your mom, but she is your full-time day care and now you don’t know who you will trust with your kids full time. There’s no one like Grandma. All of this while your husband is asking for a separation.
With all of the chaos comes the emotions to match. You’re angry and confused and desperate and worried. All the time. And the end isn’t in sight.
You start to act out of character. You snap at people and get a little heavier handed with disciplining your kids and a little less thankful and a little more entitled. You start to stand up to the world, blaming people for your problems and demanding what you are owed. Demanding justice even where there is none.
And then you feel terrible about yourself. And you wonder who you even are anymore.
It’s not that far-fetched a situation for a lot of people. Sometimes it’s not even anything devastating that leaves us disoriented. It’s a dramatic change like switching careers or moving across the country that uproots us from who we thought we were and where our comfort zone was and plants us smack in the middle of something—someone—we’re not good at being. And suddenly we have no idea how to behave.
I have been there–in the midst of circumstances so unbelievable they couldn’t even make a daytime TV drama. But my recent switch to the title of “Mommy” rocked me off my well-carved track in a pretty major way. My close friends can attest to how many times I sobbed to them, dramatically saying “I have no idea who I am anymore.” Because it was COMPLETELY new territory to me. And I was so very uncomfortable.
My daily routine changed, my relationships changed, my reading materials changed, my goals changed, my food changed, my exercise routine changed (disappeared). Good grief. Very little stayed the same.
And in the middle of it, when I was really desperate for some grasp on reality and some anchor in what I considered an upside down world of mine, I felt like the Lord very gently reminded me that I am still me. And He is still the same God, Father, Savior He’s always been to me.
I am the person He’s fashioned me into for thirty years. All of my strengths and weaknesses and interests and cares are all still there. My character and convictions are still the same.
But I still have to choose to be that person. And that was simultaneously freeing and challenging.
It may take more self control than you knew you had in you, but in the moments of crazy, don’t become a stranger to yourself by behaving in a way that isn’t you–by abandoning who God has made you.
There are some practical things that may make it easier than you think. When everything has changed and you feel like your head is on backward, do something that feels normal to you. Go to Target. Make a meal you love. Sit at your favorite coffee shop. Re-read a book that makes you cry-laugh. Do a load of laundry. Whatever is mundane or relaxing or just plain old normal to you—do it and regain a little sanity.
But, whether it’s needing to reclaim some organization in your life or coping with loss, remember you’re still you. Even as you change and grow through life’s experiences, anchor yourself to who God is and who He’s made you.