IDENTITY: A LOOK INTO THE HEART
When you feel like cancer or illness has taken away your identity – how do you find it again?
You may notice that many of the articles across the internet for finding your life again are about changing what you do. It may be necessary to change your job tasks, hobbies or activities, and certainly it is important to take on a new health-style. In addition, it is important to take care of your mental and emotional part in a new way. But perhaps some writers or professionals are missing the point. It’s not about what you do – it’s about who you are.
YOUR REAL IDENTITY
Remember that your identity is still there, living inside you. God is still your Father, and your creator. The personality traits that God designed in you (otherwise known as gifts or talents!) still live in you. You are still the daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandma that you were. These are the naturally God-created tools you have always used to accomplish what you do and with whom you do those daily things. Whether you ever knew it or not- you were, and are gifted.
IDENTITY IS GOD-GIVEN
Approach facets of your identity as something that is built into your system. You are still able on some level to be that- encourager, support system, teacher, listener. You may be gregarious, a quiet reader, dependable, observant, dutiful, helpful, or humble. Perhaps you are imaginative, meticulous, precise or adventurous or conscientious. These are what makes you, you.
Your observant attitude may be what you used to teach children or take beautiful photos. Perhaps your dutiful approach is used to care for your own children, your aging parent, or to willingly volunteer in your church or charitable organizations.
Your cancer recovery or chemo complications may blur how you use your personality traits (tools, gifts). Perhaps you move more slowly, with more thought, or use your hands differently. When using your gift in a physical way such as patiently caring for a senior citizen, you may have to find other skills that have been lying dormant – but always ready to use when needed. Those unused skills may take the place of those you were having difficulty expressing because of physical restriction or emotional stress. In addition, God can change what we do and how in His time and for His purpose.
Here is an example: I love to re-create greeting cards to give to nursing home shut-ins. Because of chemo complications, I was not as able to use my hands in all the ways I wanted to. Using scissors was for a time a little challenging. I began to use a paper cutter instead. At times I could not create the number of cards I wanted to give. Yet my focus was to show Jesus’ love to the elderly who were often forgotten. I need to step back from the craft sometimes, and accept that I can find new – budget-priced greeting cards to give instead. It is the message and the care that mattered most.
YOUR IDENTITY AND PURPOSE
Determine what it is that you enjoy, and why you enjoy it. What is your purpose in it? Did you do it for fun and relaxation? Is it still fun and relaxing? Is it for ministry, serving your community or for love of family? Pray that God will show you how to handle it; or if you can serve in other ways.
WHERE IS YOUR IDENTITY?
Ask yourself if your feelings of lost identity have to do with –
- Physical activity
- Emotional state. This can affect the roles you filled in your family and friend’s circle.
- Your appearance. Has your body image changed? Low self-esteem can also be the result of continuing illnesses.
Your identity remains. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
In conclusion, here are some tips to encourage physical or emotional healing that can cause you to miss your old self:
- Stop living in fear – trust God. Said easily, harder to live. There are many scriptures in God’s own TRUE word that encourage you to live more fearlessly. ( http://restginhisshadow.com/grace-mercy-life )
- Take time to regain strength, eat smarter, sleep well, and rest when needed.
- Pray, meditate, enjoy God’s wonders, and spend time with your family and friends.
- Renew your focus and purpose.
- Accept your new normal and use it to be what you were; only slower, more deliberate or with more planning.
- Stay away from toxic, stressful people and situations. You don’t need them. They are a time-waster and can drain your reserve.
- Decide what’s important and prioritize.
- Give yourself permission.
- Accept the “Mulligan” do-over.
Knowing the source of the problem will help you get back to the you – you are meant to be. Let’s look at some ways to do that in the next weeks.
Writers will participate in a Q&A forum to address how they re-gained their feelings and importance of IDENTITY
Here are some practical, additional links for mental, emotional and physical health information:
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