Aug 7, 2017
It’s funny how short phases in our lives can change or make us forget who we really are or what we like to do. Or maybe it’s more that, in the midst of those short phases, we start redefining ourselves based on short-term situations. In particular I was thinking about all the long walks I’ve missed since being pregnant and recovering from surgery, but now that I think about it, there have been a lot of short phases in my life these past several years.
My time at BYU was a “short phase” that ended up lasting seven years. Then there was our four years when Bryan was in grad school. Then the terrible year in upstate New York, then the year in the townhouse before we bought our new house.
Thinking about it like that, basically the first ten years of my marriage up until now have been lots of little “short” phases. But woven through them are things that have no end in sight, thank goodness. Our marriage, motherhood, my relationships with my children, and so many friendships with people across the US.
In all that time I’ve gotten much better at packing and moving, where I used to have no method. I’ve gotten both better and worse at making new friends and keeping in touch with old ones. I’ve made a lot of things. Walked a lot of miles.
Growing up, my hometown was such a big part of my identity; I’d never lived anywhere else. Now, so many years later, I still feel a certain sense of pride telling people where I grew up, but I do it knowing full well that I couldn’t accurately tell you the names of any of the freeways out there anymore.
There was a short phase when I wrote a book and really identified as an author. A short phase when I felt successful and really let it define me. The current ages of my children continually redefine me as a mother. It’s funny having a newborn to nurse and being back in the mother’s lounge at church again.
Looking back over these past ten years of one short term phase after another, thinking through all the ways I thought of myself, I think it’s better to define ourselves by who we really are–and perhaps even by who we want to be–than to constantly let ourselves be defined by short term circumstances.
Like, for instance, we had financial assistance while we were in school, but it wasn’t representative of the kind of people we are. I couldn’t exercise for most of the time I was pregnant, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never exercise again. That would be like thinking of myself as being “from” Ohio even though we were only there for grad school. I loved my time there. We had some great experiences and made lifelong friends. But it was only a part of who I am.
Anyway, I’m wandering and rambling, but the point I was trying to make (to myself) is that defining myself by what may or may not be going the way I’d like it to right this moment is not a true definition of who I really am. Who I really am is made up of so much more than whatever is happening right this moment. Who I really am is much more of a commitment, a daily working toward, a choice. And it’s also an inherent value that doesn’t change with the tides.
Life changes, but I don’t think people do. I think what people do is grow.
One thought on “Short phases”
This is the kernel, the nugget, of another book. Think about that. You have have some good wisdom here!
Reading this post reminded me of a significant phase in my life. At age 34 I had spent the previous 13 years of my life pregnant and/or nursing, with virtually no gaps. That was over 1/3 of my life at the time. I remember the mix of joy, awe, and gratitude it gave then–and still does now–to reflect on that commitment and contribution.
Now I’m facing the end of another important phase in the near future. 20+ years of teaching is a long time, a phase that has defined me. It’s 1/3 of my life! And yet it’s just a little blip in the overall scheme of things.
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