by Jen Ramlet
As I sit here at my kitchen table with my 3rd cup of black coffee and favorite candle from Anthro lit, I try to recall my first identity crisis. I have had so many of them throughout my short 30 years of life; it’s hard to remember where it all started. Then it dawned on me. It was 6th grade and I had just gotten back from living in Oxford, England. There were three girls, who for some reason intrigued me. Their all black and metal chokers were the complete opposite of my Old Navy wearing friends that I had connected with throughout elementary school. They were different. Not better or worse, just different: what they liked and did outside of school; how they dressed; and what they listened to musically was nothing like I had ever experienced before. Although it was just a short period in my life, that is where my identity crisis first formed.
I have always been the outgoing kind; the one who speaks her mind and tells people how it is. The one that takes over a room when I enter simply because my loud mouth is too hard to ignore. I thrived off making people laugh and being around large groups. However confident I appeared to the outside world, inside I was just a girl who was trying to make a name for myself in a family of outspoken and humorous individuals that are loved by all. It took me a long time to find out who that girl was. Although I’m thankful for the pain I went through that got me to this point, I often wonder what would have happened if I sought the Lord sooner on the matter.
You see, 6th grade was just the tip of the iceberg. I went on to move to New Jersey, a place that couldn’t have been more different than Colorado, Ohio, and Oxford, England. It was a fast paced, family oriented, in-your-face kind of state. This was the place that began to transform me into the women I am today . . . but not before I went through a few phases. In 7th grade I was led to believe that I was “uncool” and “poor” if I didn’t wear Abercrombie and Fitch, therefore my sweet parents had to find a way to support that incredibly ridiculous “ask” because Amanda, the “popular” girl at Kinnelon Middle School, told me that’s what I had to do in order to be cool. Then in 9th grade I fell for an incredibly good looking boy that reminded me of Sean Patrick Thomas. And in an era where, for me, Save the Last Dance and Love and Basketball were on constant repeat, I transformed into a girl who played basketball, wore cornrows and lived in pink Timberlands. Looking back at those photos I can’t help but laugh. One, because I still think I look good in cornrows, but also because I was so insane to think dressing and acting like someone else was going to get me a guy who probably would have liked me even if I didn’t go to those extremes.
However, I didn’t learn. I went on to date a guy who listened to emo and scremo music, and if you’re asking yourself what those are, don’t feel bad, I had to look it up the first time he told me what it was. I began to wear band t-shirts and skinny jeans before they were cool and went to concerts where I was in complete misery in entire time ohhh….. and I dyed my hair black… Talk about a crisis!!! I looked RIDIC!!!!!!! Aka ridiculous! However, it didn’t take me long to get over that phase. I quickly joined the band. And I don’t mean the school band; I mean “I’m with the band.” The Urban Outfitters wearing, vinyl listening, surfing galore free birds from SoCal. This was the first time however that I started to feel free. This was one phase I felt comfortable in. I felt loved by my friends and accepted. A good friend of mine, Josh, was constantly challenging me on my beliefs and my worth. Being a strong Christian from Santa Cruz, he was the first friend that truly met me where I was and encouraged me to seek Christ in the midst of my crisis. He was a constant strength, all the while, being the closest thing to a hippy I ever met: chill, relaxed, and always a good time.
It was at the age of 21 I finally began to challenge my identity and ask myself who I was. My senior year of college I did briefly go back to Apple Bottom jeans and weaves, yes weaves, not extensions… like legit weaves that, by the way, are not ideal for someone who has been bleaching their hair for a decade, yeahh… definitely went pseudo-bald and learned my lesson the hard way there. However humorous and silly my past was, when I look back at my life, I believe that I was just a girl trying to find out who I was without truly seeking the help of the Father. I can’t remember ever asking God who I was as a person. I mean I knew what God said about me and how I was called fearfully and wonderfully made, but I never asked him who JEN was, not when it pertained to my identity.
An identity crisis is said to be: “a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society”.
Half of my life I lived in an uncertain, confused state where deep down no matter how confident I appeared, I really was just an insecure girl trying to find something that ended up being right in front of me. Jesus was the answer. And yes it is that simple… Deep down it is that simple ladies. Was the process that simple? No. Was the battle between what society says and what the bible says easy to win every time? No. But it was and still is the greatest decision I ever made. The moment I stopped asking everyone else what I should be and I began to ask God who I was, the women God made me to be finally appeared. And let me tell you something ladies, she’s pretty great. I’m nowhere near perfect and I still have struggles that tend to pop up daily, but I love who I am. I love the women God made me to be and I love that when those identity struggles pop up, I now know how to fight them; How to speak against those thoughts and desires and seek the one who designed me to be me. Colossians 3:1-4 says:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”.
I love a lot of things about this verse but the two things that stick out to me are this:
First, it challenges us to set our minds on things above, NOT on things on this earth. So when you’re on the brink of an identity crisis or in the middle of one, challenge yourself to think on the promises that God has given you. Remember what He has called you. He has said you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He has anointed us and put His seal on us. He has given us His Spirit in our hearts. He has called us to not look at people’s appearance but at their hearts. Therefore, to be like Christ, we should be looking at the hearts of people and heart that beats inside of us, not just at the women on the other side of the mirror.
Second is that Christ is our life. Not just IN our life, but OUR LIFE. Meaning, all of the things that allow us to become foggy are not of Christ, but of this world. This should be our constant reminder day in and day out. When Christ truly becomes our life, we will see His glory all around us. We will not have to wait till we are in heaven, because His glory and love and confidence are completely surrounding us.
Today I challenge you to say goodbye to all of the different women you have been trying to be and go meet the one that is burning inside of you.
Walker Hayes has a song called Halloween. It goes: “High school was like showing up at a costume party. I was a comedian, an athlete, a golden boy, a black sheep, whatever I had to be to make the world throw candy at me. College was the same act, different play. It was October 31st every day and the real world was an all too familiar street. Another trick, another treat. Then I knock-knock-knocked on your door, every mask I ever wore shattered like glass on the floor. It was like Halloween ended to all the people I pretended to be. Rest in peace.. Rest in peace.. Rest in peace...”
The day you take off the masks of all of the people you have been trying to be and finally knock on the only door that matters, you will experience such a beautiful freedom you will, like me, wonder what took you so long. The process might be scary, you might go through times where you feel lost and confused as to who this woman truly is but the Bible says in Isaiah 43:1: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”.
Today’s challenge: Look at your life and ask yourself two questions. Are you the women God has called you to be? If so, how are you living it out to shine on other women? If not, what next steps will you take to become an even more beautiful, magnificent self?
Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next. She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ. Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup. You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).