Identity Crisis Stage Right

I love to sing. It’s the one thing I’ve loved my whole life. Honestly, music is the only thing I can remember training for. I didn’t take classes to learn how to cook, clean, or be wife and mother. I had dreams, baby! By the time I was eight years old I knew I wanted to be the next Debby Boone or Amy Grant. I wanted people to feel what I felt when I sang their songs. I wanted to write songs that made people feel what I felt. I wanted to matter and to be known. I still do.

A couple times a month I get to sing with our Sunday morning worship team. It’s a blast to hang out with people who love music, truly enjoy expressing their love of God through music, and at the same time don’t take themselves too seriously. We always have a blast. Well, almost always.

About half-way into the rehearsal the other night I started feeling like I didn’t belong on the team. I was the oldest female singer on the platform standing with a few beautiful young women. Next to them I knew I stood out and not in a good way. We kept singing, listening to each other, trying to blend while my thoughts continued to drag my heart down.

You’re too old for this. You’re too fat for this. Your time is done. Find an ensemble for middle-aged menopausal women and be thankful you can still sing harmony. Quit trying to be something you’re not. Accept it and move on.

It was all I could do not to start bawling while we sang Oceans for what felt like the thousandth time. The words coming out of my mouth did not match what was in my heart. Instead I watched the clock on the back wall while coaching myself to hang in there a few minutes longer. As soon as it was over I put my microphone away, walked to my car and began a tearful drive home, unable to shake my thoughts. Before going to sleep I poured my heart out in a journal. I prayed. I couldn’t make the pain go away.

The thing is, I have studied God-given identity and worth and beauty. I have taught it. I have walked in it. So to find myself smack in the middle of a mid-life who-am-I kind of crisis on a Thursday night had me reeling a bit. This summer my oldest son graduated from high school. My role as a mother is changing. I’m looking at an empty nest in a few years. What will that mean for my marriage? Do I even know how to cook dinner for two people? These are real and serious concerns that keep me awake at night. It’s in this place that I feel the shame of not knowing how to be a woman at this age with these circumstances. I only know how to be what I have been.

I confessed my struggle to a friend via text because she specifically asked how she could be praying for me that day. (I love my creepy Jesus sister-friends more than they’ll ever know.) The pain and nasty thoughts stayed with me all weekend long. Even Sunday morning as I looked out into the sanctuary I wondered if anyone out there knew of a ensemble holding auditions for a middle-aged menopausal chick who sings more like a man every year. If I have mastered anything in my 44 years of living it is that I can do one thing while thinking about something completely different. I should have a signed framed certificate hanging on my wall for that alone! Universities hand out honorary degrees for much less worthy achievements. As soon as the service was over I booked it to the car not wanting to linger and chat with anyone. I was done.

The next day I thought about some things that had happened over the last week or so. First, I had shared with a friend that I want to record a song I wrote many years ago when my kids were little…even if they’re the only ones who ever hear it. I had forgotten all about that dream. I had also been asked to do some creative writing for our fall women’s conference at church that had to do with identity. Of course I helped with that! I knew the creative team was putting it all together.

Wait, what?

Suddenly the timing of my identity crisis seemed a little too coincidental. What if I was being harassed by Satan himself? I got mad. Because if he was doing this to me, he’s probably doing it to other women–especially the creative team working on the women’s conference which made me furious. Because I will become a sword wielding warrior princess on behalf of my sisters! DO! NOT! MESS! WITH! MY! SISTERS! But in order to fight for my sisters I have to fight for myself. I have to remember that I am a daughter of the King and NOBODY messes with His girls and gets away with it. I have to expose the lies of the enemy because that’s what they are. LIES. I get to offer grace to myself when I am drowning in shame. Because shame keeps me crouched in fear and there is zero fear in the perfect love of Jesus. He sees me. He knows me. He loves me as I am just as much as he loves who I am becoming.

Now that the shame and lies are exposed I can see the battle for what it is. The enemy wants to shut me down and shut me up. Guess what? I’m not going to allow him to do it because I have a God-given responsibility to the younger women to HOLD THE LINE and walk in freedom and truth. This generation needs me. I also need older women to impart wisdom into my life because I don’t know how to do this part. I need eyes and ears in my business. Lord have mercy, I need wisdom. It’s too easy to isolate and live a virtual existence. I can’t do it anymore.

Friends, you know I love social media more than the family dog. I do. I’m introverted enough that I could easily spend my days relating online and be perfectly content. But it’s a one way relationship. I was made for more and so were you. Who are you allowing to be eyes and ears in your life? Who do you know that’s a little further ahead in life that you would do well to allow them to show you how this thing is done? Pray and ask God to reveal a couple of people to you and then reach out to them. Take them to coffee or lunch or water. Whatever. Just reach out. It’s the first step to getting us out of our own heads and into truth. I’m committed to doing this too. (As I’m writing I’m thinking of the movie, War Room. Have you seen it? I think it’s time to watch that one again.)

Jesus, thank you for overcoming the evil one by your death and resurrection. Thank you for your perfect love that casts out fear and shame and covers us. Thank you for fighting for our hearts. Thank you for friends who fight for us when we’re beaten and bruised from the battle. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who reminds us of our identity and our inheritance in YOU. I pray that these words will shake the reader’s spirit awake and open their eyes to lies they are believing today. Set them free. May these words speak life and truth over their God-given identity in Jesus name. Amen.

Thank you for reading this. I know it was long. Please make sure you put it on a reading log or something for credit.


The Secret to the Perfect School Year

I spent a few minutes in the back to school section at Target the other day watching parents try to manage the chaos of gathering school supplies for multiple children. I wanted to gather us all in a circle for prayer because I could hear the tension in the words exchanged between a mother and father about exactly which markers were needed. Instead I opted not to linger near the markers. This year I only needed a few things for my ONE high school student who hasn’t even bothered to look at what I managed to find him BEFORE the actual first day of school. (I am determined to be awesome in the eleventh grade.) My oldest graduated in May and I’m still not quite sure how we got here since I was pretty sure I was messing him up the ENTIRE eight years we home-schooled, even though I knew it was the right thing for him. This is the first year as a mother that I feel peace about the upcoming school year and want to share some of that peace with you.

Lean in close because I feel like I need to whisper these sage words…

There is no secret to the perfect school year.

This is actually really good news for us. It means we don’t have to even try to do it exactly the way someone else does their school year for this thing to work out. This means you can send your kids to public school or private school. You can teach them at home or a whimsical combination of homeschool and traditional school. Mama, you have never had more options to educate your children than you do right now at this moment in history. And you have never had more pressure on you as a mother to educate your children as you do right now at this moment in history. So if you feel a little overwhelmed at times, there’s a good reason.

Here’s the one thing that I wish I would have understood and owned FIFTEEN years ago when I dropped my firstborn off at preschool:

As a parent you are the president and CEO of your family. (In a perfect world you are sharing this role, but this is not a perfect world so let’s just focus on you.) You get to manage your children’s education. This means you get to determine from year to year what your family’s needs, your personal needs, and each individual child’s needs are for that year. (This does not mean you get to start firing people in your family for being annoying slackers. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.) What worked for you last year might not work this year. Perhaps you’ve been homeschooling forEVER and this year you decided to put your kids in traditional school because you are on the verge of losing your mind and dear God let there be peace on earth once again in this house. Perhaps your kids have been in traditional school forEVER but you’ve decided it’s time to try something different at home because you sense a change in environment might be exactly what your children need to grow during this season of their lives.

You get to choose what’s best for your family and for your sanity. Because your family needs your sanity. (You know that, right?)

And here’s the best part. You don’t have to do it alone. Even if you’re not married. Because Jesus will lead you every step of the way.

Isaiah 40:11 says “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

It’s not all up to you. He leads, you follow. This means if he leads you in a different direction that you can trust where he’s leading. If he leads you to keep doing what you’re doing even when it seems like everyone else is doing something better, you can trust him. Mama, you have to let him lead so you can lead well. Maybe that’s the secret after all.

This is my prayer for each one of us as we begin this new school year.

Jesus, you are the good shepherd and you know where we need to go. You know our fears and frustrations better than we know ourselves. You know our children and the destinies you have just for them. Forgive us when we wander off and try to go it alone. Thank you for the gentle correction and loving encouragement that brings us back to the path right behind you. We love where you’re taking us, Jesus. Lead on.

Now it’s your turn. Would you please share some back to school encouragement with a fellow reader today? You can do so by leaving a comment.

Thank you.



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