There will be times in your life when the identity you had disappears and you establish a whole new one.
If you’re lucky, that identity shift happens because you want it to, like when you become a parent for the first time. But for many of us, that shift is not of our own choosing…
Never in a million years did I think that I would become a widow.
Never in a million years did I think that I would lose a son and not be his mom anymore.
That kind of thing rocks your world.
When a title or a role you’ve held for a long time is suddenly taken away, or you organically feel like it’s time to move on, that shift can be really challenging.
Vision as an anchor
At age 26, I had a mentor who urged me to write my vision and purpose down on paper, with dates. So I knew my own identity of who I believed I was and what my purpose was here on this earth at an early age. That certainly helped me later on when I experienced the tremendous losses of my husband and then my son within three years of each other.
I remember the first time I had to check the box “widow” at a doctor’s office. I thought, this is just really strange, because I’ve been married for almost 30 years.
And shifting out of those titles means that sometimes you have to shift out of groups of people that you’ve been associated with for so long. You start losing the relationship the way it was, and hopefully, the people you’re close to in your life will grow with you as you assume your new identity. But sometimes, they don’t.
Right now, with COVID-19, all this isolation, people losing their jobs, and relationships shifting as a result, I think a lot of people are feeling this identity shift happen. Whether it’s something that you personally are choosing to change, or it’s being forced upon you, it doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative.
I sometimes see this as a God thing, being nudged out of a place where you’ve been hanging on too long because it’s comfortable. You have this feeling that you’re supposed to move on, so it’s a way of ripping the band-aid right off.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be pushed to grow. If so much of your identity is being set up by outside titles that you’re putting into your life, I want to caution you against that because those things can change.
What I’ve had to do is go within and really start looking at who I am and what I believe my calling and my purposes on this earth to be while I’m here.
My purpose and my faith have kept me going through losing a lot and having to shift into a new identity. The truth is, who I’m becoming isn’t really a new identity at all. I’m truly unfolding into being more and more of who I really am. And this has come about from the internal work I’ve done and from letting go of the outside stuff.
Finding Your New Place
Right after I lost my husband, a very good friend of mine said to me, ‘Your personality is going to change because of this.’ I didn’t really understand what he meant at that moment. I mean, obviously I knew it meant that I would be taking on different roles – going from married to widow. But now I know exactly what he was saying.
After you go through a tragedy, when you do some of the things you used to really enjoy it’s just not going to feel the same anymore. It won’t even feel the same even if the people you’re doing it with are the same. You’re also going to try so hard to keep making it like the way it was. And you’re going to end up feeling like you’re doing something wrong.
That’s why I want you to remember that a new identity after a crisis is not such a bad thing. Think about it this way: we, as humans, are on a journey of getting better, and this is what it’s supposed to look like.
Remember to give yourself a lot of grace and mercy in the change, and know that it’s okay to make these changes and to let go of the person you used to be.
To get your audio or print copy of my book, Keep Looking Up, click here.
Vision is Victory,