They warned me it would happen.
These women who have gone before me. They told me it's a struggle of letting go. Of not quite knowing who you are. It's an identity crisis.
I got married six weeks ago. I changed my name. And I get it now.
I left my apartment, my church, my hometown, and my last name. I'm living in between cornfields in a tiny little town with my new husband in our new home. I'm ridiculously, undeniably, head-over-heels in love with him.
But I don't know who I am anymore.
The bills still come in my maiden name. Sometimes my old address is on a letter, with the yellow forwarding sticker below. My nursing license delayed my name change and I was taking care of patients under my old name while signing checks with my new name. When I write an email to an acquaintance, she writes back that it took her awhile to realize who I was with the new outgoing last name on the email.
It's an identity crisis.
But here's the thing: it's absolutely worth it.
All that I’ve given up for my husband and marriage has been worth it. Becoming one with him, learning to love as Christ loves (key word there is learning!), having him as a companion on the journey to Heaven. I wouldn’t trade any of it for my old, better-known identity. I’m still the same person, and yet I’m new. I’m changed forever because of the sacrament. I am known by others less, but I am more who I was meant to be. It’s beautiful.
We live in an identity-saturated society. We’re obsessed with making a name for ourselves on Instagram, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. We want followers. We want people to recognize us and know our name.
But marriage and the subsequent name change is teaching me what St. John the Baptist taught us long ago. In a world that praises making a name for yourself, St. John tells us in the Gospel, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). Instead of building up his identity and counting his followers, John the Baptist was constantly pointing to Christ and leading others to Him. That was his life’s goal.
When we get serious about Jesus and having a relationship with Him, are we learning to let go of our contrived identity so we can learn who He created us to be? Are we asking for humility in our prayer, for ways to make Him known in our lives so that people see more of Him and less of us? Or do we simply want to continue creating our brand, our unique identity, to attract followers…and have a little Jesus on the side?
There’s an identity crisis when we invite Christ into our lives. But it’s beautiful. Because the more we lose ourselves, the more we are able to find ourselves in Him. We don’t have to worry about who we are because we know Whose we are. He will mold us into the man or woman He’s called us to be. We can just focus on being completely, undeniably, head-over-heels in love with Him—and receiving that love from Him.
It’s worth it all. Becoming one with Christ, learning to love as He does, having Him as companion on our journey to Heaven. The world may know you less the deeper you go with Christ, but you will be known by Christ. In the most intimate way, He knows you. He loves you. And He wants to guide you to realizing your greatest identity: His chosen, beloved, redeemed Child.
In your prayer today, ask the Lord to show you how He sees you. Ask Him to help you find your identity in Him. I don’t know you, friend (although I’d like to, so write me!), but if there’s one thing I know about your identity, it’s that you are His. Rest in His love today.