I am NOT my pain.
I think that one area that is easy to get sucked into while living with chronic pain or illness is the trap of thinking that our pain defines us - that our identity lies in our pain. But, I don't think this is an issue only for those of us living in chronic pain. I have mentioned before that I used to be a farmer. For five years I spent most of my time enveloped in the farming lifestyle. I wore overalls and farm dresses and straw hats. I went to meetings about farming. I took farming classes. I worked day after day in the blazzing sun or freezing rain - planting, weeding, harvesting. I LOVED to identify with fellow farmers and the community it produced. I was so proud to call myself a farmer! A couple days ago I posted about how God took us from the farm and called us to something totally different. That was just last year, but the pain that brought to me and my husband sometimes feels like a fresh wound. We miss the farm. But through this experience I have been learning an important lesson: my identity needs to rest in God alone. Last year this was even more clear as my husband and I had to step down from youth ministry which I had been doing for about 13 years. AND we had to leave our home Church, our Island, and living minutes away from much of our family. I had taken identity in all of these things and then suddenly they were all gone. I hadn't been married long, so even my new role as wife wasn't something I relied on for my identity.
Having nothing that I used to feel defined by was a scarry place. I have walked through much of this year feeling slightly lost and very lonely. When people ask me to tell them about myself I sometimes don't know what to say. We have grown up looking to things for our identity, and our culture in many ways defines who we are by what we do and our role in society. I think this is kind of a natural thing to do, but I also think it can be damaging. What happens when jobs are lost, relationships end, children grow up and leave the home, health changes, beauty fades?
As a follower of Jesus, I want to be defined by Him. I want people to see me as one who trusts and loves the Creator of the Universe. I want people to see the various roles I have and will have in my life as part of my joy as living for the glory of God no matter what I do. I want people to see my pain as a part of the life I have been given for this time, and to see that it isn't my identity - it's just part of the circumstances I live in day by day.