Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters from Home: Finding my identity

By Rev. Ann Mann
annmann@comcast.net

Finding our identity is key to living authentic lives. For almost 40 years, my identity was intertwined with being my husband Kim’s wife. His passing left me adrift, grappling with the void his absence created. With his passing, I am no longer a wife, I am a widow. And every time I am asked to check that box on a form, it is like losing him all over again.

While some aspects of my identity shifted with Kim’s passing, some have not. I am still a mom, sister, aunt, friend, and pastor. And now, a new role has emerged. I am now a grandmother. Watching my grandson grow up, watching my sweet daughter grow as a mom are truly gifts from God.

But even these roles will change. I have discovered that while our roles may change, our core identity endures. Our identity is rooted not in earthly roles but in our divine heritage. The one thing that will never change is my identity as a child of God.

John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who believed and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn, not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

New life in Christ is an incredible gift. This month, I have the honor of sharing this gift with 36 residents of Whitworth Women’s Correctional Facility in Hartwell, Georgia, as part of Kairos Prison Ministry. The mission of Kairos is to share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to incarcerated men, women, and youth, as well as their families.

In my years of working with incarcerated women, I have heard countless testimonies of women who lost their identity. Through this ministry, we teach them about finding their identity in Christ. We teach them about the overwhelming, never-ending love of our Savior.

We teach them how the love of Christ enables us to forgive. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others are important parts of embracing our identity as beloved children of God.

I know firsthand about forgiveness. Central to my journey from wife to widow is the profound act of forgiveness. Forgiving my husband for leaving me, forgiving myself for harboring resentment, and extending forgiveness to others are crucial steps toward healing and hope. As painful a process as this is, it is essential for reclaiming our true identity as beloved children of God.

The same is true for the incarcerated. Every time we go into the prison, we hear stories of lives shattered by past mistakes. And through the power of God’s amazing grace, these women find redemption and forgiveness. And they also recognize the power of their testimonies.

These Kairos Prison Ministry weekends and our monthly reunions are poignant reminders of the way Jesus is at work in the world setting the captives free. Christ wants all to know his love, mercy, and grace. All we need is people who recognize the power of their testimonies and are willing to share them.

When we hold on to our identity as the convict, the victim, or even the widow, we cannot fully live into our identity as children of God. Forgiveness is hard. And yet, our Savior forgave us as he hung on the cross. With his last breath he offered us what he asks us to offer others. Every time we pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others.

In my work with Kairos Prison Ministry, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of faith and forgiveness. Through sharing the love and forgiveness of Christ with incarcerated individuals, I’ve seen lives shattered by past mistakes find redemption and purpose.

In life, loss and change are inevitable. Yet one truth remains constant: our identity as children of God.
Whether we find ourselves in the throes of grief, the embrace of new roles, or the journey of forgiveness, our worth and purpose are rooted in Him.

So, let us walk forward with courage, knowing that our true identity is found not in the roles we play, but in the unchanging love of our Creator.

I am still a widow, no longer a wife. But more than these, I am a child of God. My hope comes from this truth, the truth that more than being a wife, a widow, a mom or even a grandmother, I am a beloved child of God. I have hope and a future because I find my identity in Christ.

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by NewsintheCloud.com - Copyright 2021