Who am I Now?
Reintegration, repatriation, and other words all describe the process of coming back to your home culture and country. The thing is, it isn’t always an easy process, as we have described in our recent 3 part-series on Reverse Culture Shock. Upon return one often goes back to his or her hometown while others have moved on to a completely new place. Throughout this process the ideas of identity and belonging start to echo in one’s mind. “Who am I now?” “Where do I belong?”
After returning home people may begin to feel out of place as if their identity has disappeared or become a shadow of whom they once were. Or they may place their identity in their experiences abroad and donot know how to incorporate all of their experiences - prior to, during, and after living abroad – into their lives now. It almost seems like they have to choose one over the other. But is that really the case? Is one’s identity truly lost?
A central piece to realizing our identity after such a life-changing time period is our identity in Christ. This is the defining piece to realizing our true identity. We don’t have to search high and low trying to find our identity because God has been gracious enough to lay it all out for us in his Word. Thank goodness!
There are many titles we have received as believers in Christ that we can learn from as we may battle with identity struggles after returning home.
Child of God: John 1:12 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Predestined/ Adopted: Ephesians 1:5 “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
God’s Image Bearer: Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Part of God’s Body/Community: 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.”
Recipient of God’s love: Romans 8:39 “We can never be separated from God’s love.”
Stemming from our identity in Christ:
Your labor is not in vain: 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
You can boldly approach God: Ephesians 3:12 “in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”
Those are just a few examples of our position before God if we have a personal relationship with him through faith in Jesus. Each of these statements can be a foundation for you as you begin to figure out who you are now that you have returned home.
Let’s face it, you probably have changed a bit; you may have new desires, new plans for your life, new enjoyments and hobby’s. All of those things are great and should be embraced! So as you sort through all the changes, keep in mind who you are in Christ and use that as the defining piece for realizing who you are now that your life has changed. Your identity in Christ did not change just because your location did. His promises are still his promises and his love for you is still as strong as ever.
Keep in mind that you are a child of God and that he has specifically chosen you. As a chosen child of God you bear his image to the world around you, and as you labor in love, know that it isn’t in vain. Also remember that you are a part of the body of Christ, which means you have been created for community. Don’t forget that each person in that community has also been a recipient of God’s love. Lastly, don’t forget that you can boldly approach the Throne of Grace and pour your heart out to God knowing that he will hear you as you may voice all your hurts, pains, joys, and questions.
When I returned from Hungary, I went through an identity crisis of sorts. People told me I wasn’t as good at certain things as I had been, and others noticed that I was slightly more laid back than I had been previously. Still others told me that I dressed differently or had weird quirks (ex: eating burgers and other finger foods with a fork and knife because of living in Hungarian culture). All of these things made me question myself and wonder if all these changes were bad. But they weren’t. I learned that just because I was different, didn’t mean I was bad or wrong. And you know what? Almost two years after my return I still eat my burgers with a fork and knife, and I like it that way! Knowing that my position before God is still the same gives me freedom to enjoy the new parts of my personality and embrace the other cultural things I’ve picked up along the way.
I know that God loves me no matter my geographical location, because he once changed his geographical location from heaven to earth and died in my place. He was then raised to life so that I may have a new life in Him and the same is true for you.do