A few years ago, before I knew anything about Costa Rica, before I spoke a word of Spanish, and before I’d even thought about the possibility of liking Hispanic culture, my dream was for France. I spent hours researching Parisian apartments, internships, and study abroad programs. Mike Dente, a missionary from Calvary Fellowship to France, was visiting around that time and I decided to talk with him about the possibility of going to France for a year to work with his church.
I spoke with him, a little in French, and after he decided I spoke enough French to not get too lost, he told me yes. But he also told me something else. It’s the only thing I remember from that conversation and it’s the reason I’ve still never been to France. He said to me, “Living in another country is a lot like dying. You leave your life as you know it. People forget you. They go on with their lives and you’re living a completely separate life that they have nothing to do with.”
Though I don’t live in another country, some days it feels like it. It’s not only that the majority of the people I see daily are Hispanic, or that I know of more Latino grocery stores that I do American stores. It’s that most days I feel like I’ve already died to who I am. The places, the people, the church, my city, my neighborhood in Mountlake Terrace — everything that defined me has become no longer a part of who I am, but a part of who I was. And creating a new identity in a new place, figuring out who you are aside from the things around you that define you, that’s hard.
Recently I started an internship with KLTY 94.9, the Christian radio station in Dallas. I listen to Christian music a lot, and this song is constantly on the radio lately. It says,
When I lose my way, and I forget my name, remind me who I am. In the mirror all I see is who I don’t wanna be, remind me who I am. Tell me once again who I am to you. Tell me, lest I forget, who I am to you, that I belong to you. – “Remind Me Who I Am,” Jason Gray
I know the song is talking about returning to your walk with God, but to me it’s a reminder that my identity is found in Christ. It’s not found in Calvary Fellowship, in Mountlake Terrace, or in being a nanny to the two sweetest girls on the planet. My identity is in Christ and he is a Rock that never changes.
It’s still hard, of course, knowing what my place is here in Texas and how to be who I am, the woman God created me to be, when I’m away from everything that was my life. I’m still learning how to do that and how to be that woman. Most days it’s overwhelmingly, heart-achingly difficult. Most days my spirit feels like it’s breaking. And most days I feel like my identity is dying.
But I know why I’m in Texas, and he is a wonderful blessing, more than what I could have ever asked for. God sure knows how to bless me. Remembering who I am in Christ, and forming my identity on the One that never changes is one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life, but I believe that God is using this time in my life, just like he uses everything.
He gives us the difficult things to make us stronger, to make us into the people he needs us to be… which reminds me of another song that says, We’re going through the fire, coming out gold. We can only be refined if we go through the fire first.