Growing up is hard.
And as a twenty-three-year-old woman, I've come to realize that it's not difficult because of all the adulting. (Paying a mortgage and doing taxes isn't fun, but it's doable.)
Really, it's the identity stuff that gets me.
Four years ago, I got married, moved out of my childhood home, and started college all within the same summer. Practically overnight, I found myself with a new identity.
A new last name, a new city, and an overwhelming sense of being totally lost in the world.
Sometimes change, even when you can see it coming, can still hit hard and knock you off your feet a little bit.
It's as if all of a sudden, you are no longer who you once were.
Or at least, that's how I felt.
Up until that point, my first year of marriage was the best and loneliest year of my life.
The best because I married the most wonderful and caring man. My best friend.
The loneliest because I was a married 19-year-old with friends living far away and new faces who could never know the old me.
And I was still getting to know the new me.
I loved being married. Still do. However, I didn't really consider how leaving home and sharing my life with my husband meant the loss of the old ways. "Loss" might seem like a strong word. But for the first time in my life, I realized that things would actually never be the same. And while it wasn't a bad thing necessarily, it was something that I needed the time and space to process.
In fact, I've realized that change —even the good kind— can require a time of grieving.
It might seem over dramatic to grieve about the loss of that circle of friends who lived just down the street.
Or not seeing my siblings who lived just down the hall.
Or being a small town artist in a new city, too shy to convince anyone that I am more than my job as a receptionist.
But those were things that my heart needed to grieve.
And if I don't take the time to hold that old identity in my hands and choose to let it go, I'll find myself stuck somewhere between the old and new ways.
I can't be both the middle child of seven, and also a wife to my husband equally.
I can't prioritize being a daughter over running my own household.
I can't build upon an old identity that was never meant to last anyway.
Transition has gotten a little easier over the years.
And it's definitely changed my perspective on how to deal with this particular grief.
I saw my husband grieve when we moved from Colorado to Kentucky to earn his master's degree; he had to to leave behind his best friends.
I see my friends move to different cities, and I listen to their struggles as they deal with their evolving friendships.
I feel the pressure to be a peacemaker for my old home, but then I am painfully reminded that I have my own family to care for first and foremost.
It's teaching me the importance of holding things loosely, letting the old and new ways flow freely into my hands as they come and go.
Maybe you can relate to these kinds of growing pains. If so, let me be the first to tell you that I totally feel you. It's okay to grieve the change. That might be exactly what your heart needs before you move forward.
I think it's just part of the process as we grow up and into a new identity —the one God intended all along.
And the process might look like a kind of mourning. Or maybe letting go.
Or looking in the mirror and realizing that change and growth can lead to very beautiful things, even when being in the middle of it feels disappointing or just plain awkward.
So if you've found yourself in the fog between the old and new, be encouraged by this fact:
You are not alone, and you don't have to navigate the change on your own.
You will make known to me the paths of life;
in Your presence is the fullness of joy;
in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
No matter how old we get,
no matter how far across the state or country or world we move,
no matter who we marry or what career we choose,
we always have a Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves. He gets the big picture, and loves us through the grief and awkward moments of any and every identity crisis we encounter.
And all we have to do is ask Him to guide.
And listen for the next small step.
Over these few years of big changes and moving to new places, I've found that this sweet love of God is the one single constant I've had. With His right hand in mine, I'm reminded of who I really am. I've learned to embrace to goodness that comes with His presence during the changing times.
Found in my new family and role in marriage.
In the new cities and new friends I've come to love.
Growing up into the one identity that will never change: my place as a daughter and friend of Jesus.
And in His hand, we are invited to find pleasures ever more, through all the fog, grief, and awkward places in between.