Identity Ramblings and Trip Reflections

When you travel, it changes you. You change in ways you may have anticipated, and almost always in some ways you never could’ve imagined. I returned home from my trip to Burundi last week, and while this was a work trip and not a mission trip, I am inescapably changed in ways I never could’ve anticipated.

As a generation, we have come to a place in our understanding of ourselves so as to conclude that what we believe about our identity is the foundation of how we live our lives. Even as a believer though, I find the shifting sand of my own comprehension of my identity to be changing and evolving as the wind blows against my fragile soul. What I believe about myself will shape my life, but my beliefs are constantly changing with each new perspective I encounter or trial I walk through. The question of “Who am I?” seems as elusive as ever.

While the foundation of my identity is wholeheartedly rooted in my Christian beliefs – I am created in the image of God, once a sinner, now redeemed by the blood of Jesus, a child of God, co-heir with Christ, no longer defined by my sin – there is so much more to our identity than that. And while not having our identity rooted in these truths can destroy our life and walk as a believer, it is utterly naive to solely define identity by the foundation of it.

Your identity is what you define yourself by. What you believe about yourself or find belonging and community within. The danger of being unaware of what you believe about yourself is the adoption of false identities that are lies intended to undermine you or prevent you from becoming all that you were created to be.

You were designed by God for a purpose. And coming alive in your passion, gifting, and all the ways that you love to reveal God’s love; is how you give glory to God in this life and uniquely reveal the light of His love in a dark and broken world.

I believe this so strongly. Yet my journey to the other side of the world has me a little shaken. I’m smart, passionate, enthusiastic, pioneering, and I love people. I also struggle with a lot of doubt concerning my faith and the ways that we do church in America. I struggle with comfort being such a driving motivator of my decisions throughout my day. I’m a messy person and simultaneously bitterly perfectionistic. My life is undeniably blessed, and yet the majority of the rest of the world lives in perpetual hunger and thirst for the most basic needs of life. Why? It doesn’t make any sense. I just have to trust God and declare what I know in the depths of my soul to be true: He is good.

While all of these statements are true of me, I cannot allow my struggles to define me. They are not who I am; only an obstacle I am facing. A season I am in.

After all these ramblings you may find yourself asking, “What does this have to do with her trip? What happened?” Nothing and everything. It was a simple trip. I had a seven-hour layover in London on the way there. I walked past Buckingham Palace on the way to Westminster Abbey and paid my 10 dollars to step into the most history-filled buildings I’ve ever experienced. I unexpectedly had a layover in Iceland! I love the opportunity to explore new places on my own.

I met some great people, encountered severe poverty, and saw how the work that I do in my comfortable office in DFW links to people who don’t have clean water getting clean water to drink and live.

LONDON:

BURUNDI:

ICELAND:

More than anything in reflecting on my trip, I am just so grateful. Grateful for my home, marriage, family, community, education, and so much more. I feel more settled in the season that I am in, and more content to be present and stop longing for ten years from now.

Thoughtful and Grateful.

With all the hope I can carry,

– Jess

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