All week I think about it, sitting there sewing with the afternoon sun streaming in through the window and the flow of women’s voices around me. We are escapees from the walls of our everyday lives, hiding here for a few days to create beauty, to connect with other artists and let someone else cook and clean and keep everything running smoothly. But I am commuting back to the real world every night and the contrast is outlined sharply, and the words keep tumbling around inside, bubbling up, as I ponder yet again: how easily we define ourselves by our relationships and our job titles, and how hard it is sometimes to see our purpose when we are apart from that. Would I even know who I am if there were no one needing Mommy every few minutes, no day-planner filled with entries, no laundry piled up in the basket, no one waiting for me when I come home at night? Who am I, really, when everyone else goes away?
What if I were just a creature sitting in the sun making beauty before my Maker, for the rest of my life? The birds do that…and the flowers…and maybe most of the living things called forth by the Word of God, though some are admittedly more beautiful in their offerings than others. And that sinks in deep because somewhere long ago, before I was defined by my first roles and relationships (Daughter, first Grand-daughter, First-born, Sister, Friend), I was just me. Although my parents gave me their DNA, and a name and a place to live, I was designed by the eternal Sustainer of Life, woven together in every detail with my father’s sensitive spirit and my mother’s determination, his eyes and her ears, and all my days already planned out in His book.
It comes so naturally to define my identity and purpose with the concrete outlines of this world, and to let the necessities of life shape my days. But maybe the press and bustle often drown out the quieter truth, that I was created to respond to the Creator and mirror Him. When life changes and the roles and relationships that speak so loudly in my life shift, even disappear, I am still who I was created to be, and my first purpose remains: live here in this dark world as a child of light… respond to my Creator in praise and thanksgiving… serve others and give Him glory. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
So I come back to the everyday world at the end of the week, and take up the jobs and places that others see when they look at me, but with a growing quiet sense of purpose on the inside. In every change of circumstance and season, I am still who He made me to be, and it springs from my relationship with an unchanging God. When I pursue Him I find myself.
“Who I am in the context of a relationship with God is who I was meant to be. So who I am in relation to God is my truest sense of self.” (The Worshiping Artist, Rory Noland)
“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:73-74