I know that I have often struggled with my identity. I was reminded of this struggle yesterday when I attended a viewing prior to the funeral for a woman I have known and admired since I was a teenager. She was my Pastor's wife during my last few years at home before marriage, and actually it was her husband, the Pastor, who married us. She was also the mother of one of my high school girlfriends. I know that she had four children, all of whom are accomplished musicians with trained voices that could lift you to the heavenlies when they sing...seriously! She and her husband the preacher were also interesting musicians, who often delighted us with performances singing to the accompaniment of a bucket bass, a singing saw, guitar, harmonica, and spoons. I believe this came out of their rich heritage of being raised in the mountains of West Virginia.
I also know that when their family moved into the parsonage that our church provided for them, they brought very little with them in the way of furnishings. At that time I belonged to the Methodist church, and it was the practice of that denomination to move their pastors about every four years. Most churches provided furnished homes for their pastors, so the families didn't have to worry about moving a lot of "stuff" so often. Our youth group was on hand on moving day to help them move into the parsonage, and I remember thinking to myself, "Wow! I can't imagine having so few personal belongings for a home!" I was hoping that they wouldn't mind the old worn out furniture that was in the parsonage, and was wishing there was some way we could spruce things up for them and make it really nice. It was an older home that had not had much updating over the years, except for an added on family room that was fairly new. The former pastor had been a bachelor, so not much had been done to beautify the place during his tenure.
|Pastor and Mrs. Parsons|
What struck me yesterday as we entered the room at the church where Mrs. Parsons' body was placed, I realized that the Agnes Parsons that her family and friends and parishioners had known and loved and cherished, was really not there. It was her body, the familiar face and hair and hands that had once loved and smiled and laughed and cried...but her person, innermost being, spirit was not there. All that made her who she was was no longer present. Oh yes, her loving, heartbroken husband was there. Her children and grandchildren and loved ones and friends and many former parishioners were there. But she was not. Her identity was now a true reality in heaven. The REAL Agnes Parsons was being embraced by her Savior, Jesus Christ, whom she knew and loved. The Real Agnes Parsons was possibly dancing on the streets of gold, and singing with the heavenly choir with a voice even purer and clearer than ever before. She was no longer being addressed as Mrs. Parsons, the preacher's wife. She is now, Agnes, totally beloved of the Father in Heaven, precious child of God and a member of the Bride of Christ.
I started out saying that I have often struggled with my identity. See, I too, became a "Parson's Wife"...no not to my Pastor Parsons...but a "preacher's wife"....and for many years that was my identity..."The Preacher's Wife." Once my husband was no longer serving in that capacity, even though many still think of me in that role, I have struggled to figure out just who I really am. I no longer have that place or position in life, and it is sometimes difficult to realize that I have a new identity. But, like Mrs. Parsons, I do have a clear identity, even though I am still here in the flesh on this earth, my identity is also in heaven...where I am known and will someday live as Pam, totally beloved of the Father in Heaven, a precious child of God and member of the Bride of Christ.
So, who are YOU? Is your identity tied up with your mate's position or as the wife, mother, daughter or sister (or husband, father, son, brother) of your family members? Or is it your position in life as a preacher, teacher, bookkeeper, lawyer, doctor, nurse, waitress, singer, writer, secretary, sports figure...whatever it is...is that what defines who you are?
"Who Am I" by Casting Crowns is a song that I have loved and appreciated since the first time I heard it.