Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives
by Judy Baer
I didn’t plan to have an identity crisis. I knew who I was—a farm girl from the Midwest, a homeowner, a multi-published Christian writer, a wife, a mother and a daughter. I was content. Life was on track—wasn’t it?
Within the space of a few short months, almost everything I thought myself to be was turned on its head. I lost my father in a car accident that also nearly killed my mother, I was no longer married, my children were away at school and even though I was a published author, my creativity had gone out the window. I felt like throwing up every time I even looked at my desk. What’s more, I sold my house and moved to another city. I was no longer a homeowner, a working writer, a wife, a hands-on mother or, for my father, at least, a daughter.
Because I’m a life-long learner, the only thing I could imagine about starting over was to return to school. I could no longer write. I’d need to learn to do something else. It was quite a jump—from living in a fifteen room home to a tiny room in a graduate school dorm.
God and I had plenty of conversations during this period, many of them one-sided. I was convinced He was my only hope. I felt He was listening but I didn’t hear the answers I longed for.
One night when I was alone, suffering with pneumonia and as miserable as I’d ever been, I changed my prayer. Instead of asking Him to heal my life, to renew my relationships, to give me back my creativity, I asked Him to do what He wanted with me. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want control of my life. I was out of energy. I wanted Someone else to drive my bus. I threw everything in my life onto God’s lap and walked away.
That’s what He was waiting for. In hindsight, I realize that until that moment, I’d been praying for what I wanted, not what He wanted for me. I’d written so many books that I’d begun thinking that who I was as a person was based on what I did for a living. I’d taken my sense of self from my work, not who I really was, a child of His.
What a wake-up call that was! I’d lost my identity as a child of God and I needed to get it back. I wasn’t the books I wrote, the speeches I gave or the things I owned.
In the next two years God gifted me with the wonderful man I married, a new locale and a deeper faith—but my identity crisis wasn’t over yet. I still couldn’t write. I had no ideas, no enthusiasm and what’s more, since I’d married I didn’t even have my writing name any more. Who was I? God’s child, nothing else. That’s where I got my uniqueness, my character, my value, my worth—because I was His and Jesus had died for me.
It became clear that I had to discover what God had in store for me now that I’d been stripped of the vestiges of my old life. And, I thought with sadness, it didn’t involve writing. Then He opened a door I didn’t even know existed. With His nudging I walked through. I discovered the world of personal life coaching. Because He seemed to put a stamp of approval on it, I spent the next year training and becoming certified as a co-active coach. I loved it! And almost a year to the day this door had opened, I got a call saying that a book of mine that had been submitted two or three years earlier, would be published as the launch of a new series. I was a writer again—and a coach of writers, leaders and Christians.
I’d needed to be reminded that every gift was from God and the only value I had was as a child of His. Anything I did was a reflection of Him, not my own tarnished luster. Yes, He allowed things to be taken from me, but He also replaced them with far better circumstances than I’d believed possible.
What I experienced I don’t wish on anyone, even a worst enemy. On the other hand, I would never want to give back what I learned either. I was made new in my struggles. God’s Plan B was definitely better than my own Plan A. I also know He has plans for each of us—and I enjoy not having to drive my own bus.
Judy Baer, MA, PCC, CPCC, is the author of more than 80 books including two non-fiction books. Baer has twenty five years experience in the publishing industry and twelve years in the coaching profession. In addition, she has written features for Woman’s Day, Guideposts’ Faith and Stuff, various regional papers and magazines, taught community education classes in both writing and coaching and done public speaking. She is adjunct faculty of St. Mary’s University, an advisor in the master’s program for MA’s in human development. Her books have been honored with numerous awards including several first place for fiction awards from both the National Federation of Press Women and ND Professional Communicators, a Silver Diary and a Bronze Medallion from Romance Writers of America. She has also been a three time RITA finalist and received an Angel Award and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.