Happy Being Me by Robynn
Last year I participated in an Eight Day Ignatian Silent Retreat. I’m wearing the same t-shirt today and it brought back this memory. I think it was on day six of the retreat, Father Daniel from Quebec, broke silence to compliment me on my Canadian shirt, “Heh nice shirt!” It made me laugh out loud before responding, “thanks!”
It is quite a nice t-shirt as far as t-shirts go. It’s a lovely shade of chocolate brown made of bamboo and organic cotton. A small locally owned company in St Catherines, Ontario have the Canadian-made shirts brought in and then they print on them any design you want. I chose the distinctive red and white Canadian flag. Under every design they write, “Happy Being Me.”
Identity has always been an issue for me.
It exasperates me to admit it’s still somewhat of an issue and I’m in my forties. I have a Canadian passport. I was born in Prince George, British Columbia. We moved 19 times before we moved to Pakistan when I was nearly nine. My parents were missionaries there for 23 years. I attended an international boarding school with 20 different nationalities among 220 students. When I was 18 I graduated from there and moved back to Saskatchewan, a central province on the vast Canadian Prairie, to attend college.
After living one year in Vancouver, BC and then another in Three Hills, AB, I married Lowell Bliss from Manhattan, KS. We packed up and moved to India 8 months after we were married. During our time there we lived in three different homes over a 13 year period. Two of our children were born there. One was born during one of our visits back to Kansas.
And now 6 years ago we returned to the United States. We’ve settled again in Manhattan, Kansas. I still hold a Canadian passport and to that I’ve added a small plastic US residency card. Our children have dual citizenship. They are American and they are Canadian. My extended family all live in Canada. Most of my husband’s family live here.
Part of the grace I received on last year’s silent retreat is the astounding realization that I belong to God. He knows me. He knows everywhere I’ve been, everywhere I’ll go. I don’t have to explain any of it. He knows. And still He loves me. Deeply. Completely. Utterly. And He calls me by name. I am His.
Surely my identity can rest in that. I belong to Him. It doesn’t erase all my longings but certainly it gives me space and safety to begin to articulate those longings.
So last year when Father Daniel saw the Canadian flag on my shirt and broke silence to say, “Heh, nice shirt”– I looked down and I saw “Happy Being Me” and I didn’t even try to explain. I smiled and said, “thanks!”