Losing Dream, Finding Identity

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”1 John 3:1

Most little girls dream of being a princess, ballerina, singer, or movie star. I, on the other hand, dreamed of being a teacher. But, not just any teacher. I dreamed of being that teacher. That teacher was some magical mix of Mr. Holland, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Miyagi, Mary Poppins and Miss Frizzle all rolled into one. That teacher was well-loved and respected by students, parents and peers; innovative, patient, caring, impactful, and had a great sense of mystery and fun!

And for about ten years…I was that teacher.

When I lost the dream that defined me

I had the rare honor of truly living my dream, every single day and I loved it! But, then that moment was gone…and I was devastated. Beyond devastated, actually. I was bitter. In an instant, my dream was taken from me due to an unfortunate and unfounded dismissal from my school and a car accident that left me physically and mentally unable to teach for over a year. I had fluctuating feelings of anger, sadness, disillusionment, and pain. More questions than answers swirled through my mind, keeping me up at night and burdening my heart. Of all the questions I asked, the one that was most prominent was, “Who am I, if I am not a teacher?”

For months, I wrestled with this question. For so long, all I had ever wanted to do was teach. It was right in my hand. I found my identity in my work. I found my identity in rhythmic schedule and flow of the day, the mounds of grading, the creative thinking to add that extra sparkle to a lesson, and the innocent eyes looking up at me. To say that I lived and breathed teaching is a gross understatement. I cried in the summer and rejoiced in the fall. School was my stage, my safety zone. It is the place I thought I could be the truest version of myself, the place I could say, “Watch out world! Here I come!” I woke with the dawn every day and knew beyond a shadow of doubt my place and purpose. Now, I was left wondering who I really was, and I felt defeated, betrayed and lost. What was I supposed to do now?

Oh the great grace and tender leading of God, my friends!

Losing my dream led me to searching for my identity

It was in this questioning time, I stumbled upon God’s tender mercy over key verse from 1 John 3:1-2, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him.” (Emphasis mine)

In an instant, the raging storm in my heart was quelled, much like when Jesus spoke and the storm was quiet. The question that had been burning in my heart and mind had an answer. Who was I if I wasn’t a teacher? Who had I always been? I was a child of God, and I still am. It never changed despite all the changes that happened in my life.

Isn’t it a comfort to know that we are not who we know, what we do, how we dress, where we go…or even what we eat?! These things may be part of us. They may be things that shape us and showcase out personality, but in the end, they are not what truly define us. Only God can give us our identity. Only Our Maker can determine our sole purpose. He who is the One who gave His very life for us who can label us, because we are His.

Yet, we are not merely possessions. We are His dearly loved children! We are co-heirs with Christ, God’s warrior princesses. And we are loved at great cost. We are a part of the family of God, and it is this truth that changes everything!

Before we are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, care-givers, church members, business women, entrepreneurs, or even teachers…we are children of the Most High God, dearly loved and fiercely treasured.

Because of this, we can trust God and take Him at His Word—even when the questions swirl and disappointments loom heavy over us. We can know with certainty that no matter what comes our way, when our plans change, and our dreams go, He is truly working all things for our good, for His glory. We can trust that His plans for us are wise, good and trustworthy, and will bring us hope and a future because He is our good and perfect Father who lavishes us with His love.

God’s dream for me is my true identity

Knowing who we are may not erase the painful events of life. What happened was real and may still hurt. There are days when I still struggle with the pain of losing my dream. But I no longer wallow in pain. And I no longer let this pain of losing my dream take away my identity. Being a teacher is a part of the grand purpose My Heavenly Father laid for me. There is hope if we will take our pain to the foot of the cross; because it is only at the cross where we can find God’s deepest heart and see a glimpse of His dreams for us.

I don’t know if God will ever allow me to have another classroom of my own. I don’t know if I will ever get the chance to be that teacher again. I pray so every day. But even if He chooses not to, I know I can trust my perfect Father because I know who I am now. I am His child, and that’s really all that matters. I can surrender to God’s will more freely when I find my identity in Him.

SHOP NOW 2 (1)

20171116_092335 - Sheila RennauSheila Rennau lives in Parker, CO. She is deeply in love with Jesus and serves Him as a teacher, writer and artist. You can reach her at sheila.rennau@gmail.com.

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