An exploration of identify. Determining what makes me fragile in these given moments. From where do my motivations come? Location seems to be an easy starting place.
I remember walking through my undergraduate student union with an emotional awareness of myself. I thought the more briskly I walked by the small shops, the more purpose I would attract. I recall a sort of anticipation every time I walked up the front steps and opened those stainless steel-rimmed glass doors to be greeted by a rush of air-conditioned academic freshness. I was a full-grown growing-up student, albeit merely picked up out of the public education system and dropped into a state-subsidized extension of my only functional reality.
Today, seven years later, I pass through similar corridors of my graduate school student union, feeling deeply moved by an upcoming relocation to begin my career as a band director. God first tied me that undergraduate institution, then sent me away married, loving my brand new wife (hot off the press) through this new adventure together. Now the wind in the sails has completely reversed directions, taking us back to where we came from and seemingly ripping us away from many we hold dear.
We’ve secured the cutest of cute houses, with a wonderful park across the street, complete with disarrayed tennis courts. Ignoring my wife’s anxiety about leaving all we love in Lubbock, TX to return to our hometown, I easily stepped into a number of properties, brimming with the excitement of our potential. It’s not hard for me to imagine myself being awesome just about anywhere I go. We settled after viewing six properties, but we both admit our new place is just “almost” perfect. Only God is perfect, as my mom says.
Today, feeling the stress of an impending move affecting my wife and I’s interactions and seeing potentially damaging patterns developing, I’m grasping for meaning in the realization of how emotional I feel when thinking about location. At this juncture, I realize I feel so much fondness for where she and I once brushed into each other in Washburn’s student union. Yet, I feel so far beyond it, as if I cannot ever return with the sort of vitality once alive in the younger me. Regardless, I stand outside my past identity and see just how much stock we invest in our location.
Am I defined by my location or do I give definition to my location? Do I receive the day’s weather directly into my limbic system for cloudiness and storms to overflow in my behavior? Or do I hop out of bed with a smile, ready to splash through the prevailing puddles and personal muddles?
There is something that transcends all of this, which I’m admittedly out of touch with recently, and that is the Spirit of Christ. I know that many struggles of my past five years of life were bearable, and even fruitful, due to God’s work in me. When I am setting aside myself and remembering the amazing news of Christ’s forgiveness for me, not a single negative circumstance can overtake my emotions or my behaviors. Instead, in that wonderful state, I am defined by the gratefulness and humility I feel towards God and those emotions translate into a natural and encouraging service to those around me.
Today, in Lubbock, TX, walking just another errand through this soon-to-be distant student union, I notice a weight of sadness. Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe it’s finally time for me to mourn. All I find myself seeking is a way to embrace this change, to follow Christ through the futile battles in my brain, and to lead my wife to a land of promise. The road is painful and our need for comfort is great. That’s what we desire. Not these distractions and impatient conflicts.
Come, Holy Spirit, will you? No matter my location crisis. No matter my identity crisis.