I just recently returned from a missions trip to the Dominican Republic, and I miss it terribly. This post is part reminiscence, part testimonial. I could talk about how this country has impacted my life for days, but I will attempt to condense it down into a blog post. This was my fourth year, and each year I learn something new about myself. This year’s theme was identity, and the last night of ministry I had to opportunity to share a little bit of my story with the youth. I thought I would share it with y’all as well. So this is (a small part of) the story of me. (p.s. there’s another one of these coming, because the DR gives me a lot to say)
For the past couple of days we have been talking a lot about identity: how it is formed, what it means, and why it is important to have an identity rooted in Christ. I wanted to share a little bit about how I tried to form my identity in something other than Christ, and the setbacks that came with that. My dad is in the Army, which means I moved around a lot as a kid. By the time I was 19, I had lived in 10 houses and four states. Moving around from place to place meant I constantly had to introduce myself to new people. Trying to make new friends every couple of years meant I had to find something that made me different. I couldn’t risk being lost in the crowd. In attempt to stand out, I tried to root my identity in places. I could be “the girl from Texas.” I could emphasize loving heat, cowboys, and flat plains. I really did like those things, so it was easy to make it my life. Texas was “home” and no where else could live up to home. After all, I was “the girl from Texas.” It would make me cool, different, and someone people would want to be friends with. Or so I thought. Throughout middle and high school, through Georgia, South Carolina, and New York, I was “the girl from Texas,” and that was good enough for me. Maybe it was pride, but I just wanted to be different. But then I graduated high school and went to University. In Texas. I could no longer be “the girl from Texas,” because I was in Texas. Everyone was from Texas. I wasn’t special anymore. I wasn’t different. Everyone liked cowboys. I didn’t want to be “the girl from New York,” where I had just moved from, because I hated New York. For a little while, I tried to be that person anyway, but it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t play that part. My identity had crumbled around me, and I needed to find another one, fast. I poured myself into my studies, and I spent a lot of time praying through the many hardships of freshman year (like being terrified I would not make any friends, forget to take a midterm, and fail all my classes. What can I say, I’m an extremist…). I became very involved in the church I go to. I started volunteering with the youth group, meeting church friends for breakfast, and anxiously awaiting each Sunday morning worship. Don’t get me wrong, I was involved in church before, and I have always loved going to church, but somehow this was different. Church of the Resurrection became my family when I desperately needed one (my parents were still in New York). They were the people who loved me through my doubts and failures. I discovered that in relying on God to get me through a crumbling identity, He had given me a new one. An identity rooted in Christ. Jesus met me in my constant struggle to be different by giving me more compassion for those in need, more passion for youth ministry, more friends who loved me despite my faults, and more joy in seeking His will for my life. An identity rooted in Christ is forming me into the best I can be. I can’t just be “the girl from Texas;” I have to be the girl who loves Jesus.