So once again I lost myself. Not in the good way, the scriptural way, “those who lose themselves for my sake” way. This was in the “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here?” way. I still knew my name (sometimes) and the routines of my day (except days I was drowning totally in the never ending to-do list). What I had lost was the all-important why, my divine mission, the purpose-driven me.
Kind of like the childhood game where you had a blindfold put on your eyes and someone spun you around until you were dizzy and then you tried to reach your goal, be it pin the tail on the donkey or find the other players while they yelled “Polo” to your “Marco.” Always a recipe for being discombobulated and totally lost whether the tail ended up on the donkey’s nose or your friend’s nose who was standing too close, it was a funny fail all the same. Now, all the changes in my family had left me feeling blindfolded, dizzy, and disoriented, and it wasn’t funny or a game.
It had happened to me once before, right after my mission. I went from being Sister Kennard, or He Yu Mei in Chinese, to being Wendy Kennard the RN, to being Mrs. Roberts, wife to my eternal companion, in about 3 months. They were some big changes, earthquake shifts, and I felt like I had been lost in the huge shuffle. Who was this Mrs. Roberts?? My mother-in-law was Mrs. Roberts, so that wasn’t me. What about Nurse Wendy? Although I felt that my work was important, and I was grateful to be able to serve my patients and their families, that was not enough or fulfilling of that divinity that I was missing. Losing my identity as a full-time missionary was very devastating, and I had to find new and eternal purpose in my life.
So why now? Well, I had spent the last 20 years pregnant or nursing a baby. Raising children was my all and everything, and my first child was now leaving the nest. Off on his own adventure and journey. All was as it should be; mommy success, right?? So why did I feel so devastated again? Why did I burst into tears at any mention of this son? Why did it feel that my heart would break?
I tried to find myself by babysitting for others’ children. Finding and holding babies wherever I went. Yes, a little psycho. But it didn’t work. The babies were not mine, they always had a mother and went home to her. They didn’t find their comfort and joy in me as my babies had, and I did not find fulfillment in them.
One day I was praying to know what would fill this gaping hole in my heart. “Father, I have tried, but nothing I have tried is working. I still have a gaping, oozing hole, and it is getting embarrassing. Help me!”
As always, He had the perfect answer: “Find me and I will fill you.” Not sure what additional things I could do to “find Him” as I was regularly attending the temple and frequently studying the scriptures. I went searching, and as always happens to a sincere seeker of truth, several people were placed in my path with different parts of my answer.
One of my answers was to do a word study of “Identity.” I kept feeling I had lost my identity but just knowing that was inadequate for what I was looking for; I knew I could not find what I could not define adequately.
So the beginning was finding a good definition. Noah Webster 1828 said, “Identity means, noun Sameness, as distinguished from similitude and diversity. We speak of the the identity of persons, or of personal identity.” Very unsatisfying and not enough of what I was looking for at all. So the second step was to find synonym words which would help me gain a greater understanding and broader picture of this important thing I had lost.
Here are some synonyms I found:
SINGULARITY, n. Some character or quality of a thing by which it is distinguished from all, or from most others.
INDIVIDUALITY, n. Separate or distinct existence; a state of oneness.
IDENTIFIABLE, a. Capable of being identified. This reminded me of a part in Rudyard Kipling’s “Rip Van Winkle” when Rip wakes up and comes to the town where he had lived. He cannot recognize anyone or anything because of the long time he has slept and been absent from the real world. He laments aloud “Does anyone know Rip Van Winkle?” He longed to be identified and recognized.
IDENTIFICATION, n. Orienting the self in regard to something or someone else with a resulting feeling of close emotional association. This reminded me of the scripture Mosiah 4:2-3 where the people of King Benjamin all align with the Savior and “they all cried aloud with one voice, saying, O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified, for we believe in Jesus Christ.”
CHARACTER, n. The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which he is supposed to possess, constitute his estimated character, or reputation. Hence we say, a character is not formed, when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities.
- The quality or state of being original.
- The power of originating or producing new thoughts, or uncommon combinations of thought; as originality of genius.
CREATIVE, a. Having the power to create, or exerting the act of creation; as creative fancy; creative power.
CONTRIBUTION, n. The act of lending a portion of power or influence to a common purpose; the payment of each man’s share of some common expense.
INFLUENCE, n. Literally, a flowing in, into or on, and referring to substances spiritual or too subtle to be visible, like inspiration. Hence the word was formerly followed by into.
God hath his influence into the very essence of all things.
It is not followed by on or with.
- In a general sense, influence denotes power whose operation is invisible and known only by its effects, or a power whose cause and operation are unseen.
- Moral power; power of truth operating on the mind, rational faculties or will, in persuading or dissuading, as the influence of motives, of arguments, or of prayer. We say, arguments had no influence on the jury. The magistrate is not popular; he has no influence with the people; or he has great influence with the prince.
- Power acting on sensibility; as the influence of love or pity in sympathy.
- Spiritual power, or the immediate power of God on the mind; as divine influence; the influences of the Holy Spirit.
1. Persons sent; any number of persons appointed by authority to perform any service; particularly, the persons sent to propagate religion, or evangelize the heathen. The societies for propagating the gospel have missions in almost every country. Last week a mission sailed for the Sandwich isles.
2. A specific task with which a person or group is charged.
3. A continuing task or responsibility that one is destined or fitted to do or specifically called upon to undertake.
1. That which a person sets before himself as an object to be reached or accomplished; the end or aim to which the view is directed in any plan, measure or exertion. We believe the Supreme Being created intelligent beings for some benevolent and glorious purpose, and if so, how glorious and benevolent must be his purpose in the plan of redemption! The ambition of men is generally directed to one of two purposes, or to both; the acquisition of wealth or of power. We build houses for the purpose of shelter; we labor for the purpose of subsistence.
2. Intention; design. This sense, however, is hardly to be distinguished from the former; as purpose always includes the end in view.
3. Something set before oneself to be obtained an end or aim to be kept in view. Resolution/Determination by deliberate intent not by accident- intentional designedly, deliberately. Full of Determination.
VISION, n. The act of seeing external objects; actual sight. Something imagined to be seen, though not real; a phantom; a specter. In Scripture, a revelation from God; an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events. Such were the visions of Isaiah, of Amos, of Ezekiel, &c.
GIFT, n. & TALENT, n. Faculty; natural gift or endowment; a metaphorical application of the word, said to be borrowed from the Scriptural parable of the talents. Matt.25. Eminent abilities; superior genius; as, he is a man of talents. Particular faculty; skill. Quality; disposition.