Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So...What do you do?

I'm guessing you've been here before...
        You go to a birthday party for a friend. Throughout the evening you meet a few new people and this type of conversation happens:

"Hi. I'm Candi." (An awkward handshake transpires)

"Nice to meet you.  I'm Jane." (A courtesy smile is exchanged)

"How do you know the birthday girl?" 

"We went to school together.  How about you?"

"The hospital.  We work together." (And then it happens... the default question asked thousands of times a day around the globe) "So, what do you do?"

It's a typical question asked when two people meet.  But today I had a funny thought. 
      What would happen if we just came right out and asked "Who are you?" 

Isn't that what we are REALLY asking? Maybe it's because we have confused what we DO with who we ARE. But what we "do" changes as life changes. Jobs shift. Positions are fleeting. Careers take u-turns. Children grow up. But who we are remains the same through all this. Whether I'm single or married, mothering or working, I'm still me. It's easiest to answer with something like "I'm a nurse; a stay home mom; a teacher; a truck driver; a secretary; a mechanic." But none of these answers the WHO question. These are all what I do, but not who I am.

How would you answer the who-are-you question if someone had the guts to come right out and ask? For me, I think I would be in such shock at the directness of the question, it would take me a while to answer and even then I don't know what I'd say. Though indirect waltzing conversations are the norm, I believe each person longs to be known. Really known.  I believe there is a deeper question we wrestle with here: Where does my identity come from?

I'm going to pick on the queen of England here for a minute.  I wonder what she would say if asked, "So tell me, who are you?" Would she furrow her brow in surprise and come back, "Why, I'm the queen of England!?"  Outside of this royal position though, who is she really? What makes her happy, sad, giddy, angry. What's her favorite book and why? What's something she wishes her family understood about her? What makes her smile in satisfaction? Does her heart ache with longings unfulfilled?

I would argue that we aren't much different than a queen.  We are most often identified by what we do and who we are associated with.  But ultimately, our identity doesn't come from who we are married to, where we went to college, what our father's name was, what our occupation is, or who calls us "mama", "Mrs." or "Your Majesty." Might I suggest the best place to anchor our identity is in the One who never changes. In Jesus.

I'm not suggesting that the next birthday party I attend I'm going to answer the "What do you do" question with an "I'm not what I do! I'm a daughter of God, joint heir with Jesus. I know who I am. Who are you?" No way!  But if I am content and satisfied with who I am in God's eyes, I won't feel as though I need to get the approval of the asker of that notorious "What do you do" question.  Perhaps I will even go as far as to share a bit more of who I really am because I'm not scrapping for my identity and significance in the "doings" of my life or the title of my name.

I'll still share that I am a musician, artist, dish-washer, wife, mother, sister, house cleaner, teacher and cook. But silently inside, I can feel content because I am also a child of the King of Kings. So, feel free to call me "Your Majesty." Haha!  I'm just kidding about the "Your Majesty" part, but there is a quiet contentment that comes from knowing my identity is in Christ first and foremost and that He tells me he loves me very much.

After pondering this for the day, I think I may even try something new by asking, "So, tell me a bit about yourself.  Who are you?" instead of just "So, what do you do?" I'm curious to see what will happen. Aren't you a little bit curious how people will respond, too? Try it. Let's be curious together!

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