“Who am I?” It’s a question we often ask ourselves and if we’re Jean Valjean, we even have a dramatic song about it. It’s a question that the world doesn’t really give us an answer to. “Look inside yourself,” Disney and Hollywood tells us, but that doesn’t really help us since we know that the heart is deceitfully wicked, and even if you’re looking at life from an unbiblical worldview, you can only dig so far within yourself to find answers before you hit rock bottom.
It’s a question that I have been grappling with over the last month in particular. Some of you may know this already, but I am going through a divorce. About half way through his deployment, my husband decided that our marriage wasn’t working out. Sin is ugly. I don’t want to go into the details publicly as I don’t want to say things that would potentially do him harm, but the bottom line is that he doesn’t know what a Biblical marriage looks like and didn’t want to learn. My heart has been broken as I spent the last several months trying to salvage my marriage before having to reconcile the fact that it was over and start filing paperwork.
It’s been like emotional whiplash. From thinking everything was alright and then getting a phone call from my husband to say the “relationship wasn’t working,” to being told a few mere days before our second wedding anniversary that he didn’t want me to move back down to Virginia with him when he pulled into port, to the phone call the day after Valentine’s Day when he told me we were getting a divorce. All the while I’ve been bathed in prayer and biblical council and love from my church family, but the whole situation has been excruciatingly painful. As one of my pastors said, “Marriage is two becoming one flesh. When you get a divorce, you are literally tearing the flesh apart. It’s painful. It’s supposed to be painful.” (Sorry for paraphrasing, Pastor Mike.)
So what does this have to do with identity? Well you see, when big things like this happen, they tend to be the thing you talk about. When my friends who know what’s going on ask me, “How are you doing?” I always feel like I end up talking about the divorce. Which normally results in me crying either publicly or in my car as I’m driving away. I’ve started to feel (inaccurately) that I’ve got a big scarlet letter D embroidered into all my clothes and that when people ask “How are you?” its being asked with so many shades of pity and disdain. “Look, there goes divorce girl. Let her be a lesson to you that you must make sure the person you marry is a Christian. What a cautionary tale of woe!” Of course nobody is saying that. This is an obvious trick of the devil to get me to forget who I really am.
I feel it when I tuck in my daughter at night. She’s a year old now and so lovable. I kneel down next to her crib and she puts her head on my shoulder, thumb in her mouth and clutching her blanket, as we pray. We pray for her salvation and for her sleep, and I no longer say, “And please oh Lord let Daddy come home safely,” because he’s not coming home. This house–the house I was a child in, my parent’s house– is our home now and my husband isn’t my husband anymore. I’m surrounded by help, but I’m still single momming it and feel the emotional weight of that. I’m just a single mom who can’t do this by herself. Which is, again, untrue. Another lie Satan is using to distract me from the reality of who I really am.
I’ve started work at Starbucks again, a job I had held before I was married. It’s so weird being there and holds a little bit of sick déjà vu. This was the job I was working when we were dating. I showed off my ring to the customers the day after he proposed to me. And some of the regulars remember me and ask, “Hey, how’s your husband? Is he still in the Navy?” And I have to answer, in front of strangers who don’t know me, who think divorce is normal, who don’t understand the covenant of marriage, that yes he’s still in the Navy, but he’s no longer my husband. I feel the heat of shame on my face as I go back to wash dishes, all the while remembering the blushes of happiness I used to wear when sneaking to the back room to text my fiancé during my shift. Here I am, a minimum wage grunt stuck in a dead end job. Is that all I am? Of course not, but certainly Satan likes to deceive me.
Satan doesn’t want me to remember who I really am.
And who am I?
I am a child of the living God. I am a Christian. I am a follower of Christ who is tenaciously seeking His face. Through this entire ordeal, I have drawn closer and closer to the Lord and I am so grateful for His protection. In truth, he’s rescued me from a potentially dangerous marriage and rescued my daughter from a rough life. I know who I am and I don’t need to be afraid.
People keep asking me what I’m going to do now. It’s a bit of an unfair question, actually. My life has been completely upended over the course of a few months. The only answer I can really think of is the words provided in Psalm 46:10-11. “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” And Moses’ words to the Israelites in Exodus 14:14, saying, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”
It’s a time to be still and to worship. I’m not grasping after anything, I’m not a person drowning in search of a life vessel. The Lord will fight for me. And to that end, I’m just doing the next thing: filling my life with the community of believers, going to work, singing again, raising my daughter, but doing it all with a sense of calm as I know that God has a specific plan for me. I have truly no idea what that plan is and it’s clearly not my place to know right now. But what I do know is that I’m going to be okay.