identity amidst shifting seasons article

Find Your Identity Amidst Life’s Shifting Seasons

Who am I if I’m not an American living in South Africa anymore?

Who am I if I’m not a missionary kid?

Who am I apart from my family?

I had just moved back to the United States after living overseas for most of my life, and my identity felt totally up-ended, downside up, and out of place in the midst of this life-changing transition.

I felt lost without many of the identity markers that had defined me for so much of my life. Missionary kid. Foreigner. The Hassmans’ daughter. Like I was stumbling around in the dark, trying to pick up the broken pieces of my shattered identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

And while I was being pushed into this new season of life, whether I wanted it or not, I was still desperately trying to cling to those old identities. I was grasping for some kind of constant in this whirlwind of change I was facing.

Have you ever asked yourself this question before?

“Who am I if I’m not x-y-z anymore?”

You’re not the only one. Practically every single person, from teenagers to young adults to middle-aged, has questioned their identity. We all go through the tumultuous years of figuring out who we are. Often, more than once in our lifetime.

So you’re not alone. As TCKs, we just tend to face these questions earlier in life and on a larger scale than most people do.

Change is a natural part of life.

Nobody stays exactly the same throughout their lifetime. And thank goodness! Would you want to be the same person today that you were as a ten-year-old? A thirteen-year-old? Or even a twenty-year-old?

Change – as long as it’s in the right direction – can be good because it means we’re growing as people. We’re discovering new things about ourselves we didn’t know before.

So don’t view your change in identity markers as necessarily bad. As long as it’s in line with God’s Word, your shifting identity can be a healthy sign of growth and development.

Romans 12:2 actually encourages believers to seek to change and grow: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (ESV).

Transformation is a sign of life.

Think of the caterpillar. 

It doesn’t stay a caterpillar its whole life, right? Eventually, it goes into its cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly. Just because it goes through different forms doesn’t mean that any one of those stages was better or worse than the other. The butterfly needed all three stages in order to reach its full potential.

Change can be beautiful.

Ask yourself: why am I afraid of change?

Ah, our old friend Fear. It shows up a lot, doesn’t it?

Whether it’s fear of an unknown future, fear of pain and disappointment, fear of our plans not working out the way we want them to, or the fear of not being able to recognize ourselves anymore, TCKs face so many fears in this life of transition and change.

And the more that life spins out of our control, the more tightly we want to hold onto what we think we can control.

Old habits. Old identities. Old comforts and distractions. Even physical objects and people.

While it’s not wrong to desire security and stability, our fear of change can blind us from the good it can do in our lives.

The answer?

Root yourself in the One who will never change.

In a world of upheaval and shifting identities and seasons, Jesus is our one constant

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

It was true yesterday. It’s true today. And it will still be true tomorrow.

Your identity as a son or daughter of God is unshakable, unchanging, and eternal.

Cling to that when your world is shifting in a million directions. When your heart can’t take any more change. When you feel as though you hardly recognize yourself anymore.

Bridge the gap between the past and the present.

It comes down to a balance between holding onto the reminders of past seasons while holding an open hand out to the new possibilities ahead of you.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping memories of the past. In fact, it can help ground you as you move on to a new season.

But the key is to embrace the new things God might have for you even while remembering the past. It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. It can be a both-and.

So hang those mementos and photos of your overseas home up on your wall. Play your favorite cultural music. Keep up with your overseas friends. Visit your old home as often as you can.

But also, immerse yourself in your new environment. Learn everything you can about your new home. Try this new activity. Go to that event. Talk to those new people. Do something you’ve never done before, even if it’s outside your comfort zone.

You might be surprised by what you discover about yourself.

Above all, trust the Father’s good plan.

Sometimes, we’re forced into change, whether we like it or not.

In those times, God calls us to trust Him anyway. Even if it’s not what we would have chosen.

Even if it’s the opposite of what we wanted. Even if we’re afraid of what we might find.
Over the past few months, I’ve had to ask myself:

Am I okay with my life plan looking different than what I had hoped for? If I don’t go back to the mission field right away? If I have to learn to be apart from my family for most of the year? If I have to wait longer than I want to start my own family?

Often, my honest answer to these questions has been no. Deep down, I’m not really okay with these possibilities.

But all God asks of us is, are we willing to trust Him anyway?

See, it’s all about surrender. Do we trust God enough to surrender our life plans, the changes ahead, and even our identity to Him?

While it’s a difficult question to work through, the wrestling is oh, so worth it. Because it leaves you with a peace beyond all understanding.

Dear TCK, your life, your future, and your identity are all held in the palm of the Father, the Master Storyteller, who knows you deeply and cares about you more than you could ever fathom.

How then can we not trust Him even in the shifting seasons?

TCKs for Christ: Staff Writer

Kristianne Hassman

is an MK from South Africa and has called Africa her home for the past 15 years. As a writer, she seeks to use her gifts to encourage other TCKs that they are not alone. Besides writing, she enjoys reading voraciously, playing piano and violin, and helping with her family’s ministry. You can connect with her at Whimsical Wanderings or on Instagram, @KristianneHassman_Author.

1 thought on “Find Your Identity Amidst Life’s Shifting Seasons”

  1. Kristianne, you gave shared such deep wisdom here–insightful and useful. Truly profound and also practical. What an excellent article.

    It’s so important to keep growing and healing in the past, present, and future.

    I have lived in one place my whole life, but a year ago, I finally discovered what it was to lose my home and not have a home.

    It’s a new level of eternal perspective and letting go of earthly things! I thought I’d learned a lot about that with a life of chronic illness.

    Identity is SO important. Maybe it’s part of what makes home and family so vital.

    I’m the non-TCK daughter of a lifelong TCK. For the last 2 years, I’ve been learning to claim that multicultural identity and history as my own, to explore it more in my life and family, and to connect with other TCKs. I’m learning what it means and looks like to be a product of two generations of ATCKs/TCAs. I don’t know anyone else who talks about that, but I’m learning about my own life. The third culture history enriches my life and gives me a clear window into that life, even though I haven’t experienced it firsthand. And that’s part of my identity.

Have some thoughts?

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