Identity

Lately, I've been musing about that word.

How do you identify yourself?  What words do I use to identify myself?

At the most surface level, words like "tall" and "brunette" and "thin" came to mind.  But, that's too shallow.

I kept pondering.  Who am I?  Personality traits?  Maybe those more fully answer the questions.  "Organized."  "Funny."  "Reliable."  Well, that's headed in the correct direction.  But, it's not where I begin to settle comfortably.

Daughter.  Sister.  Friend.  Wife.  Mother.

Those are the words that really provide me with my identity.  Some of those I chose.  For some, I had no choice.

I'm aware that although those words will always be true, the relationships that allow for those terms will not always exist in this world.

I'm a daughter because my parents chose to give me life.  I'll always be someone's daughter, but the time will come when I no longer am actually called that term.  Those people will leave this earth.  Never again will I receive a card addressed to "My darling daughter."

Those terms will potentially shift.  Someday, I may become a widow instead of a wife.

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When we were in the United States this summer, we visited my grandmother at the nursing home.

**Let's just put this out there.  I'm not a big fan of nursing homes.  I have this hyper-strong sense of smell, and nursing homes smell bad.  They just do.**

As we were driving to the home, I was going over with the kids the nursing home ground rules.
1.  No running.
2.  Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly.
3.  Make eye contact.
4.  Act interested.
5.  Don't complain about the smell.

We arrived, Tony parked, and I called upon all the strength I could muster.  I opened up the van door, put my happy mommy face on, and walked in.  Good news.  No smell!  That immediately put me at ease.  Ok, not at ease, but it lowered my defenses.

We found Grandma, and the kids immediately reminded me that they're better people than I am.  They ran (walked appropriately quickly) up to their great grandparents that they hadn't seen in a year, and they started handing out hugs and kisses.  This ability must come from their father.

More strength mustering, and I found myself hugging as well.

Lisa, get a grip.  These people are the same grandparents that you've always had.  Why are you being a mess?

I determined to deal with the thoughts later.  I'll just sit and be friendly while being made completely aware that this is not my comfort zone.  Perfect.  I look around the space.

Tony has settled in next to my grandmother.  They are having, apparently, a lovely little conversation that has some general basis in reality.  The Middles and Bits are keeping Grandpa entertained with their (within the rules) antics.  My mom and uncle are chatting about the day's news and needs.

All is well.

Except for these thoughts in my head.

What are you looking at?  What are you looking for?  What are you seeing?  

I can't figure out why I'm so uncomfortable beyond the obvious that I have a weird relationship with sickness.  But, it's more than that.  What is the deal with me?

I scan the room.  Elderly people in wheelchairs.   People with walkers and canes shuffling from room to room.  I hear a commotion coming from behind me.  I follow the sound to the dining hall where several of the home's residents are lined up in their wheel chairs.  They are listening to various music (Christmas in July, anyone?) and shaking maracas and other similar instruments.  More thoughts.

What are the people doing?  Are these exercises?  Why are they listening to Christmas music?   

My mom interrupts my thoughts to ask me to find out what's for dinner.  I'm told where the menu is, and the Bits and I walk down to find out the info.  As we head down the hall, we begin passing the resident's rooms.  We'd been in the visiting portion of the home, but now we're really in the home.  And I can barely walk for the conversation going on in my head.

How many people live here?  What's wrong with them?  Do people visit?  What are their stories?  How do they feel about this place?

I can feel the emotion welling up behind my eyes.

I look at the menu except I don't know what the date is.  Vacation does that to me.   Well, that and the emotion I'm trying to deal with.  I shake off the thoughts, and I look at the menu again.

All I see is mac and cheese.  And, I start crying.

I'm allergic to cheese.  I get migraines from cheese.  How could I live here?  Do they make dietary changes for people who need them?  Would I have headaches all the time?  Would anyone care?  Would anyone even notice?

I wipe my tears, pick up Bits, and remind her that I'm allergic to cheese.  She seems confused.  We walk back to the group.  No one asks us what's for dinner.  Good thing, because I don't have a clue.

We say our good byes to my very grateful (there really are no words to describe the depth of gratitude) grandparents and get into the car.

Tony, driving through a cornfield, looks at me and asks if I'm ok.

Behind my sunglasses, the tears begin to fall.

"No.  I'm not okay.  They're losing their identities.  These once vibrant amazing daughters and friends and siblings and wives and mothers are becoming a group.  They're just 'the elderly.'  This is the "greatest generation," and now they're slumped in wheelchairs shaking rattles to "Angels We Have Heard on High" in the middle of July.  Are they seen for who they were or who they are?  Are they loved for who they are?"

This was never the plan.  

Different voice in my head.  This is the Voice.  The one of the Father.

"What was never the plan?  Nursing homes?  God, Mom is doing everything she can."

No.  Sickness.  Death.  Never part of the plan.

The sunglasses no longer cover or contain the tears.  I'm quietly weeping.

Psalm 116:15, Lisa.  You love this verse.  You have no idea the depth of it. Remember it.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

I didn't ever desire this pain.  I created these lives to love Me in perfection.  Now, death has to happen.  But I still love.  Love perfectly.  As these individual lives walk out their final days, I hurt for them.  These lives- too often forgotten by the world- are precious to Me.  Precious.  At death, each of my followers has a single identity.  Mine.  At home with Me.


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As I ponder identity, I am brought to face the truth.  The Truth.  The single reality that when my days have ended I will have a single identity.  I either belong to the Father.  Or I don't.  I've spent a life devoted to Him or I haven't.

Am I living with that identity in the forefront?  Am I living as He purposes?  Or am I avoiding opportunities to love because of the smell?


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