Have you noticed one of the most common questions raised by people meeting for the first time is, ‘So, what do you do?’
It’s a strange question really, what does it even mean? I eat, breathe, walk, talk and sleep. I do a whole range of different things every day. Yet when we are asked that question we instinctively understand the enquiry: ‘How do you make a living? What line of work are you in?’
Why do we do this? Without even thinking, we seek to immediately classify each other.
We first look at what the other is wearing and the way they are groomed to help us determine if they are rich, poor or somewhere in between. We check their sense of style and see if there is a wedding band or engagement ring present. We listen to the way they speak to detect an accent, giving us an idea of their cultural background. We look at the fine lines on their face and hands to estimate their age. And then we ask the ultimate question – what do you do?
A doctor, mechanic, artist, teacher, domestic worker, student, mother, or entrepreneur perhaps? This final piece in the puzzle allows us to create a well-rounded picture of the person who stands before us, right? It instantly helps us decide if we are staying for a coffee to chat through our common interests, or if we are excusing ourselves because we already know we are far too different to ever be friends.
What happens when the answers to these questions are no longer obvious? What happens when the person, position, promise or promotion that made you, you, is gone? Who are you now?
Ahhh, Identity Crisis!
Every day countless people wake up, look in the mirror, and see a stranger staring back at them. Someone who isn’t the genuine version of who they were created to be, but a fake copy made up of everyone else’s expectations of how they should behave, think, and strive. While every day, more people wake up filled with a deep sense of disappointment, failure or loss, born out of unmet hopes and dreams.
In one way or another, we are all in crisis. We fill our days searching for things on which we can hang our identity, only to have them endlessly stripped away, leaving us bare, vulnerable and in desperate need of a break from it all.
Let’s choose to stop. Acknowledge that we are confused about who we really are, where our life is actually going. We are confused about what we are ‘supposed to be’ doing. Let’s find something stable by which we can be defined authentically.
Psalm 139 says this:
Lord, you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say, even before I say it. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Despite what we have been led to believe, we aren’t designed to strive, compete or juggle our way through life. We are designed for a specific purpose, by a master craftsman who came up with an ideal plan for you and me. It’s wonderfully unique, tailored to our specific skills and talents, written with wisdom and care, and let’s face it – far too complex for us to navigate well on our own… that’s why we are in crisis! Luckily, He has promised to guide us through each and every page.
This is our identity. We are deeply loved and purposed, full of potential and worth, regardless of who we are or what we do. What an unshakable sense of security and peace this offers in a fast-paced competitive world.
Allow this to take the pressure off and refuse to be disappointed or disheartened by missed opportunities and misunderstandings.
God is in control of all the puzzle pieces which make up our lives. If something is out of place, He’ll fix it. If a piece is missing, He’ll find it. If we need to start over, He’ll clear the way – all that we need to do is surrender. Put our hands in the air, open our clenched fists, and drop all the labels, ideals and identity tags we have been holding too tightly to. When we do this, we not only make room for Jesus to slip His palm in ours, but we free up our hands to reach for new possibilities as Christ guides us through our story.
So, next time someone asks you, ‘what do you do?’, consider your response carefully. Will you find yourself defined by a set of man-made categories, or will you challenge the norm and say something different?
To learn more about our master craftsman, the one whose image you have been created in, click on the link below and we’d love to share with you.