Breathing Icebergs

Me as MOBster. May 31, 2010.
“Choose an Identity”
“Choose an identity.” If you’ve commented on a blog post, odds are you’ve seen that instruction. 
I reflected on that the other day, and thought about all the roles that make up my identity. Some of them are lifelong, like “female” or “U.S. citizen.” Others last for decades:  “wife,” “mother,” “writer.” Still others are over in a blink. Last year I was honored, for a single glorious day, to be the mother of the bride. Abbreviated in the wedding planning notes, florist’s list, and seating chart as “MOB,” I enjoyed my day as a MOBster. 

We choose some of our roles. I chose to become a wife, chose to write, chose to work at my job. Other people choose some roles for us: I had no control over whether I’d be the mother of the bride someday.

Still other roles may be foisted on us in life.

My father, for example, would never have chosen the title of “widower” for himself.

Only in the blogosphere are we truly free to choose our identity.

In college I had a good friend who, as a teen, had surrendered her newborn for adoption. At a party one evening, another, newer friend started to rant: “What kind of mother could abandon her baby? How on earth could a mother be so heartless and cold?” I watched my friend shrink into herself as our new friend continued her tirade. I hurt for her.

And years later, I learned that our new friend had been adopted. The night of that dreadful dorm party, she’d recently located her birth mother–and her birth mother had refused to engage with her.

Most of us don’t willingly share all our roles. We drift along like breathing icebergs, carrying much of ourselves beneath the surface. And when those hidden aspects collide, as they did for my two friends all those years ago, the impact can really hurt.

All these complicating bits of who we are make me all the more grateful for the most important role I’ve chosen to embrace: child of God.

For better and for worse, He knows me. He knows what I carry beneath the surface and He loves me anyway. All my earthly achievements, causes of shame, and secret scars–both borne and dealt–from collisions with other icebergs fade before the knowledge that I am forever His, loved and forgiven.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB) 


  1. Sometimes I trick myself into believing there's nothing beneath the surface of my own breathing iceberg. You know? And then I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the water and – once again – I'm shocked to realize that God loves all of me.

  2. It is shocking, isn't it? I am so humbled when I remember that He sees the scars, inflicted and carried, and still insists on loving me.

  3. A Joyful Noise

    MOBster, now that is a fun title!
    We all probably are called names we hope we never get to hear! I feel sad for your friend, one who did not enjoy hearing names that might identify herself. The other was hurting so badly she could only rant! Jesus know all our hurts and as you so sweetly stated, he calls us his child, his beloved!

  4. Carolyn Counterman

    I was thinking about this the other day. A friend and I were talking about the fact that I am adopted, and I told her, "but that is just a fact about me – it isn't who I *am*". I try to remember (but more often forget) that God's name is "I Am". Therefore, I think I should probably be more thoughtful about the words I put right behind that phrase. "I am…"

  5. Sometimes it's more than a little scary to let people see what lies beneath the surface. Fear of being hurt can be a powerful incentive for hiding those dark corners. Thanks for the peek.

  6. Carolyn,
    I'm going to be thinking about that for a long, long time…what do I put before "I am"?

    Sometimes (just sometimes) it's easier to do scary things because I know the One who will one day wipe away every tear. When I trust Him as I should, the fear is cast out.

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