I’m wondering. Do you ever feel lost? Buried? Hidden? Do you feel like you are in a season that doesn’t exactly reflect you, the real you? Do you ever feel like you have to navigate between the worlds of who you are, the world of who you want to be, and the world of who everyone else expects you to be?
And do you ever wonder what the heck to do about it?
I’ve been there. In some ways, I’m still there. Motherhood in particular can be such a bizarre season of life, and I’ve never had so many THOUGHTS running through my mind as I do now that I’m a mom. And so, rather than just let these thoughts run on repeat in my brain, I’m trying to parse them out in order to look at them, understand them, learn from them, and then place them back in my brain in an orderly fashion.
So far, it’s all just China Town in there, but you know. I’m working on it.
What has been on my heart lately isn’t really a blog post. It’s 50 blog posts. And it’s not just about motherhood, it’s about religion and God (not always the same thing), and it’s about personality and gifts and passions and dreams and this thing we call identity and purpose.
And it’s about seasons.
There is this author, Sally Clarkson, who writes about motherhood. A lot. And she calls the season that I currently find myself in – that of being home and raising little ones – “the hidden years.”
Gah. Doesn’t that just about sum it up?
We feel hidden from the world – buried under dirty diapers, laundry, endless demands, and the constant needs of keeping small humans alive. We feel hidden from our spouse, who we desperately want to understand why our day-to-day is so hard, yet we feel incapable of adequately expressing it without digressing into a list that just sounds like whining and fails to express our heart. We feel hidden from the world where we worked so hard to develop skills and a career path and a plan. And we feel hidden from ourselves. We wanted this, after all. We CHOSE this. So why does it feel like we’ve sort of…lost ourself in the process? Where did we get left behind in all of this?
So we feel hidden and no matter how many other moms corroborate our feelings with their own, similar feelings and experiences, we still don’t know what to do about it.
I was listening to a podcast recently where the women speaking addressed this “hidden season,” and talked about showing up in our season and my heart just started to beat a little faster. I knew that this was it. THIS IS THE THING. This is the thing that we are all struggling with. This is the thing that will help us understand how to navigate this hidden season, and how to navigate it WELL.
The question is, though, how do we successfully show up in our season? How do we show up as our most authentic version of ourself, even when we are living in a season that is foreign, difficult, or simply calling us to do things that feel unrelated to who we are?
This past year, I’ve been on a quest to understand myself, to answer just that question. I never saw myself as a stay at home mom, yet here I am. I never saw myself as having a bunch of kids but here I am wanting a house full. I never wanted to homeschool, but HERE I AM. So I asked myself, how can I still be me, now that I’ve found myself in totally unexpected situations that, rather than highlight who I am, oftentimes make me feel hidden. (Note: I would like to clarify that these are all good things. But like most moms will tell you, these good things are also hugely sacrificial. And hard. The point is not that we aren’t grateful. In fact, I believe the best way we can show our gratitude for the good things in our life is by doing this very thing – by living out of the abundance of who we are.)
I’ve read books on the enneagram (I’m a 5), on Myers Briggs personality indicator (I’m an ENTP), and on my happiness style (I’m a relator-experiencer). I’ve learned SO much about who I am and how God has hardwired me to operate.
And that’s when the lightbulb went off.
I grew up in a really conservative church environment. From what I understood, it didn’t really matter who I was, all that mattered was who God was. Now, this could all be a big misunderstanding. Maybe I just wasn’t pickin up what they were layin down. But none the less, that was the sentiment projected. That was the ideology that helped shape my sense – or lack there of – of self.
So, for years, I’ve been trying to operate in the world purely off of the information I knew about God. And, well, that hasn’t always worked out very well. It’s put me in the position of knowing that God loved me, but feeling like my life didn’t matter to him. But if my very existence is proof that I am part of God’s story, then I MUST also understand who I am and who God has made me to be, not in spite of, but because of who God is.
Fast forward to now. Now I understand that who I am directly correlates to who God is. In fact, I understand that to view God in a vacuum, completely divorced from who I am, fails to to take into full account who God really is. Mankind stands at the very crux of the story of who God is. If you don’t know who you are, you can’t fully know who God is. And you can’t really know who you are until you know who God is. The two are intrinsically linked. Your story IS God’s story. God’s story IS your story.
Why? Because you were made in his image, darling, and humanity is God’s literal love letter to us all. Understanding yourself – who you are in light of who God has made you to be – is the single easiest way to understand who God is and what this whole world is all about.
This is where we have to start.
And this is where it gets tricky.
Some of you who are reading this might not have a relationship with God. So you are tempted to disagree that he has anything to do with your identity. On the flip side, some of you who are reading this are charged up on church culture. You talk Christianease. You know the jargon that only other people “inside the church” know. You know God, and you are going to want to fight me with every breath in your body, because you – like me – have been taught a version of God that requires false humility. A version where we don’t matter in the grand narrative of creation, God, and humanity.
For me, I grew up knowing a lot about God. I could quote you facts and stories and verses till I was blue in the face. I knew all this STUFF.
But knowing stuff about God doesn’t translate to knowing God. And we can’t know God outside of knowing the role he has called us to play in his and our story.
In case you are really struggling with this thought and are tempted to quit reading right here, let me offer you something to ponder. Time and time again in the new testament portion of the Bible, the portion that records Jesus’ time on earth, we see Jesus speaking less in terms of who he is, and more in terms of who his people are and what he has called them to do. In fact, he went out of his way to hide who he was – choosing instead to speak in parables and telling those he performed miracles for to not telling anyone.
What did he do, though, time and time again?
He told people who they were. And for many, he went so far as to give them a new name.
I hope all of this is making sense, because I’m telling you, this concept has changed my life. It’s changed how I view God, and it’s changed how I view myself. What’s more, it’s changed my view of how I believe God views me.
God views me as a unique creation. Made for a unique purpose. Hardwired with specific gifts, talents, interests, passions, and dreams. All that stuff matters. It’s not the stuff that I can get around to after I get the dishes done and the babies to bed. It’s not the stuff I try to squeeze in on top of my normal 9-5. It IS my 9-5. I bring it with me everywhere I go. Why?
Becasue I was made on purpose, for a purpose.
I experience life and happiness is a unique way, not just for my pleasure, but because my pleasure reflects the pleasure our creator experiences IN US. If we fail to grasp that we were made on purpose, for a purpose purpose, then we fail to grasp the central truth behind who God is. This is not pie in the sky. This is not humanism. These are not platitudes you cross stitch into a pillow. We are talking about understanding God’s nature through understanding our own, because creation always points back to a creator.
Understanding God is hardwired into your DNA. Knowing God isn’t so much a learning, but a remembering. You were fashioned in Heaven. Your heart knows the way.
It’s just that simple, and yet most of us miss it all together. Maybe you missed it because you were raised in a church culture like I was, where God was judge and you were bad and you better not mess up. Maybe you missed it because you don’t quite get how God fits into your story yet. Or maybe you miss it because you aren’t even sure you believe in God.
Whatever the case, let’s talk about something we CAN all agree on – seasons. More specifically, hidden seasons.
Let’s talk about what to do when you are in the hidden season of motherhood. Or of loneliness because you’ve moved. Or of sadness because of a stinging loss. Maybe your hidden season is simply you don’t know who you are, despite everything else in your life going smoothly and according to how life is supposed to go.
One thing is for sure, I believe we all go through hidden seasons. The question is, then, what do we do in those seasons?
Simply put – we show up.
We show up day in and day out, living according to who we are. Not who we thought we would be. Not who others say we should be. Not living out of what we wish life would be. We show up as the person we have been hardwired to be, right here, right now. We show up with our gifts. Our talents. Our dreams. We show up with they way we’ve been hardwired to experience happiness. We show up with the way we’ve been hardwired to serve and love and work (it’s not all the same for everyone!).
In life, we all go through seasons that test us. That stretch us to our limits and beyond. We all go through seasons where we feel lost, alone, and hidden.
What makes the biggest difference in those seasons is not waiting until the season is over and a new one begins. It’s not learning some magical lesson or even discovering some “reason” like we all want to believe. What makes the biggest difference, is whether we show up in our own story – in our current season – or not.
Honor who you are today. Honor who you have been made to be. Because when we show up in our current season as the most authentic version of ourself, then we prepare the soil to grow into our next season. If you can’t be “you” in this season, then you won’t be able to be “you” in the next.
Who you are isn’t dependent on seasons or any external factor. Its dependent entirely on who God has made you to be.
Did you know that you have a gift to offer every person you meet? That gift, is you. You aren’t a mistake or a fluke or happenstance. You were intentionally made. Do you know what that means? That means that your passions matter. That means that your personality matters. That means that your dreams matter. That means that how you experience happiness matters. That means that your preferences matter. Not just to you – to God. Because he made you that way.
And so it comes back to you, because it always comes back to God.
You don’t have to believe in God. It’s all a choice. That is the way he set this up to be. But regardless of where you are at today in your relationship to God, I want you to think about the possibility that everything that makes you YOU, matters. If that were true, how would that change how you view yourself? How would that change how you view God? How would that change how you view your season?
The thing is. Seasons can come and go. Everything about your life can change. But who you are and who God has made you to be can remain as constant as his love and faithfulness. This means that yes, you can find happiness, contentment, and purpose -even in tough seasons.
Showing up in your season, no matter how hidden you feel, looks like loving out of your unique gifts. At home with babies? Love them with your talents and passions. Don’t just read parenting “how to” books. Think about what you love and what makes you come alive and love them with those abilities. Or maybe you are in a season where you feel confined by work you don’t love or ideologies that stifle you. Bring your unique point of view and take on life into your season. Or find ways to explore your passions outside of your job. Your job and your dreams don’t have to be the same thing.
Jobs don’t kill dreams. People just stop dreaming.
Don’t wait for the “right” season to bring the thing that you’ve been waiting on. Because who knows, what you bring into this season might just be what carries you into the next.
The examples go on and on. The heart behind all this is the idea that who you are matters. Dive into understanding what makes you tick. What you love. Who you have been made to be. Discover you enneagram number. Figure out your Meyers Briggs personality type. Understand why you think the way you think, why you feel the way you feel, and why certain things matter to you so much.
Show up, day in and day out, with those qualities. Show up with the gift of you, and discover that YOU are what you have been waiting for. You can’t begin to understand your purpose and the role you have to play in your own life until you recognize that first have to show up to get the part. It’s not about waiting for the next season or a better season or a less stressful season or a season with more opportunities. The season you are in is the season you are in. What you do get to decide, is whether or not you are going to show up for it.
You are God’s gift to himself. The question is, will you honor that gift? To those around you? To yourself?
The hard truth of the matter is that God has already promised us everything we need to handle life. We have access to it, just like we have access to him. But too many of us go through life with our spiritual/emotional hands cut off. We act like we are invalids, when in reality, not only do we have the hands to reach, we have access to reach for what we need.
If you have a relationship with God, the secret to showing up in your season is to honor God by honoring who he has made you to be – with full accesses to everything you need to live this life.
If, perhaps, you are reading this and don’t have a relationship with God, then I would suggest that you start by spending some time in reflection. Take some time. Do the work of understanding how you are hardwired. And then take that understanding and pour it into this season. And, I’m willing to bet, understanding yourself better will lead to a better understanding of God. Because an understanding of the created will always lead to an understanding of the creator.
Regardless of who you are and where you are at today, I would encourage you to stop waiting for your situation or season to change. Whatever season you may find yourself in, be all there. Be all in. Show up in your season, knowing that who you are is who you are supposed to be. And you were created, for such a time as this.