*** I want to preface this post by saying... there are women out there MEANT for motherhood... it's where their entire being is fed and nurtured...they truly believe it's their sole purpose, and I believe they are right. They are INCREDIBLE women and I have many in my life like this... I ADORE THEM. There are also MANY women out there who love being mothers and raising their children, but ALSO have identities they have lost along the way. To the women scared to start the conversation... feeling shame for even wanting to explore the topic... this post is for you.***
I may answer to the name “mom”…. but is this my sole identity?
I may answer to “wife”…. but who was I before I said “I do” and am I the same person now?
I may be known by my profession…. but does it even begin to showcase what I am passionate about?
I may be known as daughter, sister, friend, or colleague… but within those spaces… am I safe to be who I believe I truly am…
Is there something missing inside it all?
If you asked me to define who I am... would I even be able to tell you without using any of the terms above?
**I think this is going to be a very uncomfortable post for most to read... it's uncomfortable for me to even write.**
I'm not sure how this happened, but somewhere along the way we became conditioned to settle into "identities"... to choose paths and follow them way before we were old enough to even discover who we were and what our future should look like.
I remember desperately trying to choose a career path in the 9th grade so I had something to put into my time capsule. I chose the medical field... but secretly I wanted to pursue music. I was known in school for music and the arts... so it would not have been a surprise to anyone... but it wasn't a path anyone else had chosen... so it couldn't have been mine either. Instead of voicing what I really wanted.... I chose something that made more sense. I didn't fall into my TRUTH... until much later in life.... Between high school and my big move to Nashville.... I spent years absorbing new identities...
wife, mother, pastor's wife, and mentor... all before I was 20 years old.
Was I ready for all that? Probably not. This doesn't mean I didn't love my husband, or my son, or the church we served in... it just means I was young. My age and inexperience made this journey very hard on me in the early days. I struggled.
It took years of living in heartache before I finally admitted to Jason I was miserable and needed to find myself...He knew it. He was the first to throw out the idea of moving to Nashville so I could pursue who I was meant to be. He could see there was more to me than motherhood, than making dinner each night, and smiling pretty on the front pew every Sunday morning. He could see I was losing who I was...He could see I was made to do more than take care of my family unit.
Now I know that last part is gonna sting... and I'm going to get called out.
"Erica, how dare you say women can't find their sole purpose and happiness inside their family unit? You are a mother and a wife... that is your most IMPORTANT calling. You need to "pray" through that till you find your peace in the life God has given you".
Yeah yeah yeah. I'm gonna call this one out.... I don't buy it. At least not for me. That is not my truth.
You see I did "settle" into my life as a wife and mother... I also settled into the identity of orphan advocate, and adoptive mother, I settled into the identity of homeschool mom, business owner, non-profit founder, and leader.... and guess what... it still left me searching. I have had MANY success within these identities, BUT... I was still left with empty spaces because there is NO identity that can fill the CORE of who I am. It's trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
If I took a poll.... and it was confidential.... asking women if they feel they are living and breathing within their true identities... if motherhood and marriage was the only space they needed to feel whole... I GUARANTEE the results would show MOST are not. Most are scared to even ask themselves the question...
"Who am I?"
They are scared because they don't know the answer... they are scared because if they even contemplate the question, it feels like they are saying their children do not fulfill them, their spouse does not fulfill them.... and that just pours a whole heap of shame and guilt on us. Who wants or needs any more of that?
So we continue on. We continue living with a void, the void none of us can quite put our finger on, because we are afraid to ask ourselves the hard question, and we are even more afraid of the answer.
Here is truth.
Many of the "identities" we live inside... are not identities at all... are you ready for this?
They are RESPONSIBILITIES.
I mean just take a look at my own list.....
Leader to thousands of team members
Non Profit Founder
It goes on and on and on. The big question I ask myself is..... How many of these are actually my identity and how many are my responsibility? The line is hard to find isn't it? The truth behind this list... the core of who I am .... isn't even on the list.... it's been on the shelf collecting dust... for years.
All this to say....
It's important we find the core of who we are... the reason we are meant to be here... the purpose that ignites our bones... the passions that catapults us into our callings. This requires honest talks with Jesus... and even more honest talks with ourselves... you can't get real with Jesus... or anyone else for that matter if you can't first tell yourself the truth.
DO I have an answer to this? Nope. But I'm on a quest of discovery... so maybe we can find it together.
I truly believe once you ask yourself ...
"Who am I" ....
You finally give yourself permission to find out....
THAT is an exciting road... THAT alone breathes life into your bones.
And to all you mamas out there afraid of this journey... afraid it may make your kiddos think you are unhappy being "mommy"... that it may make your husband think you are an unhappy "wife".... let me give you another truth....
Taking a journey of self discovery does NOT threaten your children.... in fact, it shows them they too are strong enough to find themselves. It empowers them to do the hard work, and reminds them they can step outside of the box and do BIG things. You become an example... they will learn from your successes and from your failures.... so be an open book with them. I promise...if you begin to explore this road... they WILL cheer you on. They don't want to be the center of your world. They want a healthy mother who loves herself as much as she loves them. And as for your husband.... maybe if you walk the road of self discovery, he will have the courage to do it too.... and you can embrace the journey... together.
Who am I? Who is Erica? Not sure, but I'm going to search for the words that truly express my identity and not my responsibilities.
Who are you? Are you willing you ask the question?