On the fifteenth anniversary of my twenty-fifth birthday, I found myself wondering who I was. I sat alone in a crowded parking lot waiting for my son to finish football practice. Nobody there knew the import of the day; in reality, nobody there even knew me. That, in and of itself, was not a surprise. We had just moved into the area a few months earlier and were still getting acquainted. But the reality that I didn’t even know myself startled me.
When I was growing up, I knew who I would become. I was going to be a missionary doctor in South America. I was going to be working in remote villages and really making a difference in the world. So, how did I end up in Palmer, Alaska without a personal identity? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a hermit; I had a life. It’s just that none of my roles defined who I was personally. My entire identity was related to someone else: Bret’s wife, Derek’s mom, Brittany’s mom or Hunter’s mom. I really did not exist outside of them and that thought was scary.
Eventually, I got the courage to start talking about what I was feeling with my new friends and I had the shocking realization that they were feeling the same things that I was. Of course, we all have our own story lines, so the particulars are different; but, what I realized is that most women go through this same process when they reach middle age. It’s the jokes and clichés about having a mid-life crisis, except that the jokes usually relate to men. It is commonly acknowledged that men buy sports cars or get other wild hobbies to try to retain their youth when they start seeing the first gray hairs and realizing they are in the second half of life. But nobody talks about what women are going through. Nobody wants to talk about the identity crisis that women face when they find gray hairs and promptly have them colored; nobody wants to talk about the loss that women feel when their children grow up and don’t rely on them as much anymore. And absolutely nobody wants to talk about the growing insecurity that most women face as they look in the mirror and realize that the models on the covers of magazines are the same age as their daughters. What happened to me? Will my husband still love me when I am gray and wrinkled? Will I have any significance in a culture that adores youth? And worst yet … I have devoted most of my married life to raising my children, what am I going to do now that they don’t need me as much anymore? Do I still have worth?
My own process of redefining myself is by no means over. I am four years into what I like to call “life alignment” – an intentional time of evaluating my life in five areas (spiritual, relationally, vocationally, physically and emotionally) and re-aligning as necessary so that I can have a life of balance and purpose. I would like to share my journey with you so that you can identify with me, laugh with me, cry with me and ultimately grow with me into the women that God has designed for us to be in our mid-life and beyond.
Why don’t you join my circle of friends and subscribe to my blog. I would love to hear from you – what are you struggling with and what are your joys? Let’s begin a journey together!