I looked back at a couple old posts to find some inspiration, some encouragement from the Jackie of 2008.
Both posts were from July 5, 2008. [Life Outside Tennessee] and [My Box]
What is interesting about these two posts is that they consider my identity, who I was and who I was becoming: one drew from the past while the other broke with the past. Reading them again, I feel like I did a decent job of expressing what I thought and felt and believed at the time. I can sense confidence in those posts.
And I wonder what happened to that confident, clear-thinking Jackie. Somewhere between July 2008 and July 2010, she become bogged down in the process and faced an identity crisis, a strange relationship, a healthy father falling ill. She allowed herself to be buried under it all rather than deal with it all, process it all, grow with it all, make good choices through it all.
I'm happy to report, though, that I see her poking her head out from underneath that pile now.
The "Life Outside Tennessee" blog reminded me of my love for California, of my reason for being there and of my confidence in being there. I remember knowing that I had to break with my Nashville identity. That things were starting over, my life was starting over. So why when I came back was I not better prepared for that? If by being in California I was breaking from the old, why was I not surprised that I felt identity-less when I returned. It's basic math: 1 - 1 = 0. Zero identity. No wonder I felt lost and unknown. But instead of dealing with it and working to discover and integrate my new identity...I ran and hid! That's real helpful, Jackie. Nice work. Good job.
Identifying your identity takes time and effort. Meeting new people, time and effort. Finding where you fit in, time and effort. And I made NO effort. For some reason, I wasn't ready to do it; I didn't want to do it. Why, I don't know. Selfishness, perhaps. I didn't feel needed. People didn't expect me around. My community didn't feel like my community anymore. Not to shift blame in any way because I admit I could have done A LOT more, could have asked more questions and could have been more engaged, but I didn't feel like anyone worked to bring me back into the story of Nashville. Like we were distant friends and no one (myself included) worked to break the ice. Doesn't help that I'm an independent introvert soul that doesn't ask for help very often or very easily. Thankfully, this week I'm coming back slowly to individuals and telling them all this and reconnecting as best I know how because there's safety in numbers (note to self: there's another blog).
So, I guess I successfully broke with a past identity in Nashville. Problem is, I didn't have things processed enough upon my return. Lesson learned. Which is where the "My Box" blog comes in....
The "My Box" blog reminds me to sift through all my notes and papers and thoughts from classes and experiences so that I can start filing them in the appropriate places in my much larger box, in my new, revised identity. That's what I'm doing now. One thing that struck me while reading this previous blog was:
So this Midwestern-by-way-of-the-South girl knows that God doesn’t want her to get rid of her box, her world, for a bigger West Coast one. It just doesn’t make sense. The West Coast box would certainly cost more. But God is adding some West Coast things to my life, my world, but it's still me. I thought I would have to start over and get a new box for all the California and seminary experience. But really this is all growing with me. It [my box] won’t be too small for all these ideas, visions and perspectives at the end of the journey. I don't have to become an entirely new person. God didn't start over with me; he just took me to a new location.
This is where I am. This is what I need to do. Meld the old with the new. Look around my bigger box and see what's there, see what is making me me these days. What all have I collected on this journey to California and back again. What do I want my life to stand for now. What do I want to do with what God has taught me and given me. It's time to make some assessments and decisions. So I will.