A conversation between two single teachers in an international school could go something like this.
Mary: “John, when I’m here at school, I know who I am and where I fit. I am on the faculty with people like you and I am a teacher to the children in my classroom. However, the only other missionaries here with our agency are a married couple. When I am with them, I feel like a third wheel. I’ve been very careful not to do anything flirtatious, but I am sure Jan sees me as doing so.”
John: “I know exactly what you mean, Mary. I’m fine here at school, but I feel different in my agency. Three other families are here with my agency, but the norm is ‘married with children.’ Whenever we get together, I feel like the odd man out because I don’t have much interest in discussing what to do with the kids or how to make time for my spouse.”
These single missionaries are talking about issues related to their roles and their identities.
Although there are a few hermits who withdraw from other people and live alone, most of us get much of our identity from our relationships with other people. Of course, we have our identity in our relationship with God as being his children, but we still need other people made in his image. We learn what our roles are as we interact with these other people, and much of who we are comes from living those roles.
Paul was a single missionary who knew his identity well. When in Jerusalem Paul was arrested as a mob became violent. Here is the way Paul gave his identity as he introduced himself to the crowd (Acts 22:3).
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