404 Recovering Identity

Recovering Identity

Today’s guest post comes from Marni Arnold. She’s sharing a story of recovering identity after losing it in her relationships. I can definitely relate. I hope you enjoy it!

Typically, December only held within it four major occurrences in my life – the anniversary of my salvation, my husband’s birthday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. However, 5 years ago – my life changed drastically on December 19th, 2006.

At the time, before Facebook really took off, MySpace was the dominator in social networking. I utilized this platform at the time, and on this night I found myself utilizing it to see if [by chance] I could find someone I had been sporadically looking for on and off for 8 years since I learned about him.

My half-brother.

I surprisingly learned about Jim when I was 21 years old. At this time, I didn’t know how to respond. I knew both of my parents were married to other people prior to them ever meeting, but I never knew my father had another child, aside of me, until this moment.

From that moment on, I’d peck in his name in a Google search, but with never anything come to fruition of it – I usually let it go. But my whole world went sideways the night I typed his name in the search bar on MySpace, and up came a profile with a photo of a man who was the spitting image of my own father.

In utter shock, my heart began to race uncontrollably as I told my husband and called my father. I debated for 10 minutes whether to contact this man to confirm it was indeed him. Once I made the decision and emailed him, within 20 minutes I had a response from him. Low and behold, it was confirmed. I had indeed found my half-brother.

Not long after our MySpace connection, we were on the phone for the first time in either of our lives talking with one another. It was the most amazing conversation I ever had in my life. Being the only-child my whole life, I deeply desired a sibling in my life, and I was as giddy as a kid and a candy shop. For considering my mother’s medical situation when I was 5 years old, she was unable to continue conceiving children any longer. So I sucked it up to realizing it was just me…until I was 21…and definitely when I was 29.

After our first few connections, we made plans for us to meet. In turn, we also made plans for him and our father to meet for the first time since Jim was 6 months old.

There’s a very long, dramatic story behind how there was such distance between our father and Jim – one I am not privy to give details about. Yet, considering this fact, the meeting of these two – while heartwarming – I could sense there was a tension between the two of them; one I couldn’t actually put my finger on. That tension began to leak over into the last days I spent visiting with my brother…and the reasons behind this tension began to reveal themselves the day after I returned home from my 10 day journey to meet Jim. This was the day the drama of his decision to distance himself
from me began, and where my identity issues surfaced.

Hurtful emails graced my inbox on and off for weeks from him; and in bemusement and hurt, I retaliated. Until the final nail [one last email] that was driven into the proverbial coffin arrived in my inbox. “Never contact me again” were the instructions.

His decision to estrange himself from me actually befuddled me. He accused me of outrageous transgressions that I never committed (but in his mind, they did), and he was doing the same with my father around the same time.

Though my husband, and even my mother’s, take on this behavior was due to Jim’s own internal pains he was wrestling with concerning the sideways way his world had recently gone as well, it didn’t offer any consolation to my heart whatsoever for what he was doing to me.

Being accused, judged, and rejected by Jim – my heart was absolutely crushed. For in all the moments I endured his libelous tongue lashings up until his final email to me, I found myself trying to figure out at this point who I was without him.

Let me visit that thought again…yes, I actually had the crazy notion that he was the missing piece of my proverbial life puzzle that would make all my problems (past and present) go away. At this point in my life, I was still very much trying to figure out who “Marni” was.

I had been in this mindset of life since Jr. High, and I was even more confused as ever when Jim made his final decision. Because still dwelling in the co-dependent natured person I was at the time, I was still seeking to find my worth through others. And I sincerely believed I had found the missing part of myself in Jim.

Oh how God clarified things for me through this moment! And it took giving birth to my son a year later to land me in a highly depressive state, which in turn eventually lead me to Celebrate Recovery to go through the process of learning the truth of who I truly was…in Christ.

Through this experience, I learned that we aren’t designed to desire others so much that we seek fulfillment in our lives, and our worth, from them. Their very presence in our lives doesn’t provide the fulfillment we deeply thirst for in our souls.

For seeking to have others fulfill such an area compromises our relationship with God, and separates us from Him. This is idolatry at its finest…and it’s the very reason He warns us against it in the very two commandments. When we lose sight, even for a moment – due to whatever fever pitch has us caught in a whirlwind of emotion – of Whose we truly are, we suffer gravely.

And suffer I did…until this past year. Even though I knew and understood all I had learned a few years ago, it took me some time to properly process the hurt I felt from Jim’s decision (through my relationship with Christ, and going through actual counseling), and embrace this truth completely into my life to where I lived in peace with
it all.

Thankfully today, as this December 19th swiftly approaches, I have a very different viewpoint of this anniversary day. Instead of feeling empty as I have for the last 3 years of my life, I’m now reminded of my identity in Him. “I Am”…the very creator of my life (all our lives) lives in me because I embraced and accepted Christ’s life into mine Dec. 21,

It’s taken me a long journey to come to this point to allow Him to be my All in All; letting Him give me my identity, life and voice.

And the takeaway my heart prays for you all to gain today is this. All of who you all are, can always be found in Him…never in another. Just embrace this truth and live in it…in His peace.


Marni ArnoldMarni Arnold is a happily married wife, and stay-at-home-mom to one son – whom she home schools – in Charlotte, NC. Attending Liberty University Online for her Bachelor’s of Science in Religion, she is also a blogger and writer whom is working on her first book. Her professional background is in EMS/Fire, and comes from a very diverse spiritual background. Marni enjoys reading, meeting with people over coffee, music, movies, autumn days filled with leaf tossing and laughter, as well as amateur photography. She blogs at Relevant Brokenness.


  1. It is really hard that someone will steal our identity. For sure individual suffering from identity theft having problem a lot to get back his or her identity but this information can really inspire individual who is experiencing this bad situation.
    Carmine Flores recently posted..Impotence and Natural Herbs that Help Men Improve Their Erection

  2. Great post. We all need to be reminded of that.

  3. Such a great story, Marni!! Merry Christmas to you – and to Tony too!!
    Cindy Holman recently posted..Day 34 – I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

  4. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story Marni! My experience with my half-brother (just dedicated my first blog to him) has been very different, but the tendency to look to others to fulfill me and tell me who I am has been something I’ve had to deal with none-the-less. And even with years of growth and maturity this tendency still lurks around the corner at times. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I need to invite it in 😉

  5. Beautifully written.

    I look at stories like yours (and think of times in my own life where I’ve walked that road) and I often wonder if we could just learn these lessons without the pain involved. It’s then that I realize the pain is necessary to wake us to the fact something in our life isn’t quite in line with Him. And when we get to the point we move into that communion…well…let’s just say it rocks. 🙂
    Jason recently posted..Day 355: The gift of forgiveness

  6. Zoila Walston says:

    Wow… This was a gut wrenching post for me. So vulnerable. Thanks!!! What a great post and extremely important reminder of our identity and how quickly we can find ourselves striving for it in people & things.
    So so good!!

  7. Oh, and Tony, I know this post wasn’t about you, but thanks for featuring it! Hope you’re having a great Christmas, buddy!
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..21 Bloggers Share a Powerful Christmas Memory, Pt. 3

  8. Marni, what an incredible and inspiring story! I hate that you went through so much rejection in such an honest attempt to connect with your family. But what a lesson you learned about what REAL family is and it ALL begins with you! God has a way of holding us up and helping us realize the truths we hold within us. I’m so glad you discovered that truth. And thank GOD MySpace all but bit the dust. 🙂
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..21 Bloggers Share a Powerful Christmas Memory, Pt. 3

  9. Marni,

    This post resonates with me deeply today. In life, we spend a lot our time searching for our “missing piece” because we believe in some small way it will fill the void in our life. We search for more in life than what we have because we believe on some level there will be more fulfillment in it.

    While I believe everyone is put in our life for a reason, whether long-term or temporary, the only person who will ever truly fulfill our needs, big and small, is God.

    I don’t know why this truth is so hard for me at times to believe or even hold on to. God never leaves or forsakes us and there is no one in our life that will ever compare to His love and His incomparable way He forgives and heals. There is fulfillment in that truth alone.

    It is my hope that your brother comes around. Life is too short, and I pray that he will have a heart and find fulfillment in not only God, but in family too.

    God bless you, Marni.

    • Thank you, Julie! The only reason I can think of that we keep on forgetting is that our natures simply want to somehow think God isn’t enough – when the reality is, He is. There may be more complexity to it than that, but that is all I am able to ascertain at this moment in my life. 🙂

      Thank you for your encouraging words and prayers!
      Marni Arnold recently posted..Today’s My 8th Birthday

  10. Beautiful post, Marni! Our identity is in HIM alone. I so often need to remind myself of this. Thank you for your encouraging post.
    Eileen recently posted..A Trip Down Guest Post Lane!

  11. Wow! You gotta love how God works through our pain. Thank you for your transparency Marni. Praying God does a mighty work in your brother as well.
    Sundi Jo recently posted..Please Participate in My Reader Survey and Win a Copy of Dave Ramsey’s Book


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