I loved being a mother. I enjoyed my kids and I committed my time and energy to them. I had fun being a mother. I often think that I had kids so I could stay a kid. But slowly and surely my kids decided to fly and leave the nest.
Our third-born left four years ago for the Marines. Now, being a “Marine mom” is not for the faint of heart, not because they may get injured or because they might struggle in the Marine “non-moral” environment (although, my prayers are that he flees from ungodly behavior). My “faint of heart” is that I missed four years of his life. I missed watching Hayden come and go in the summers, Christmas breaks, and all that happens in the weening process of college life. Marine life lends itself to isolation and distance of time together since when they are gone, they are gone.
As my four years of distance with our son is winding down and with the expectation, he will be home for good in two months, we received a phone call on Monday and he told us he re-enlisted. My husband and I were broken-hearted. Here go another four years of distance. By the time he gets out, he will be 28 years old. Once again I have to walk through the “identity door.”
What is the “identity door?” It is a door we walk through in times of transition, and when we do we are asked: “In whom is our identity?” Do we live for Christ or do we live for ourselves? The “identity door” is a passageway that reminds us of where we find our satisfaction. What gives us the most joy and peace? Where do we land when we have nowhere else to go? Do we land in the presence of God, or do we land looking for something else that gives us happiness? Who defines who I am — my identity.
In Philippians 1:21, Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul was all about living for Christ. His very being and every breath were about living passionately for Christ. A mentor of mine from several years ago told me about how she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was heart brokenhearted for her. She told me, “Don’t worry about me; after all, worry is a sin.” She also shared with me what she shared with her doctor. After she was told about the cancer, she cried and then went in to her doctor’s formal office to talk about the prognosis. He asked her how she was doing and she told him. “If I live, I live with Christ in me; if I die, I go to be with him in heaven. So, actually, I am in a win-win situation.” Her identity was completely and totally in Christ.
Back to my “identity door.” This time of sadness and loss and transition is a door, and as I walk through it I must affirm that my identity is in Christ. My identity is not defined by whether or not my kids live near me, if I have grandkids, or if my kids walk with the Lord. I will be sad if they don’t walk with the Lord, and I pray constantly that my kids will walk passionately with him, but my joy and satisfaction need to come from my own vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. As I walk through this door, as I leave behind my son and another four years of absence, I cannot turn my head and look back at him and what could have been, but rather turn my head forward and walk through the “identity door” with my eyes focused on Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith.