About nine months ago I read an article about the ways that we have become a society whose identities are built around our jobs. Our identity is less and less about who we are and more and more about what we do. One of the first questions when getting acquainted with a new person is, “What do you do for a living?”, which we’ve actually shortened into, “What do you do?” I think that my piece of this is a bit exaggerated because as a pastor my job and my personal life merge in very real ways. But it’s not just pastors. Many of our lives have become about our work. Not completely, but in ways that attach so much identity to professional life.
And because this time is so disruptive to many of our professional lives, we are having to rethink our identity. In some ways, we think, “If I’m not a productive worker, who am I?” Who are we without our jobs? Who are we without the things we do?
Marlon Hall identifies himself as an international lecturing anthropologist, practitioner, and storyteller who uses film, art-installations, salon dinner parties, and yoga to unearth beauty from brokenness. One of the things he has done is to host a dinner party with people who are strangers to one another. At that dinner, they are invited to talk about anything except what they do. They are only permitted to talk about who they are.
I wonder if, in this time when what we do can seem fairly up in the air, it is time to re-examine who we are. Is it time to wonder more deeply about the things that matter and what we are made of? If you are feeling like you are not the productive person you always thought of yourself as, that’s still ok. This is not working from home. This is sheltering at home during a global pandemic while trying to get some work done.
So take it easy on yourself. You are more than you do.