To be idle requires a strong sense of personal identity (Robert Louis Stevenson).

This quote sounds like something to be laughed at, but stop and think. Why would being idle require a strong sense of personal identity? Because we humans tend to use our jobs to define ourselves. What we do becomes who we are.

Because I recently left one job, had a few months’ vacation, and started a new one, I’ve been grappling again with the task of defining myself. I do it unconsciously. For two years, my world was Wittlingen, Germany. My job was to take care of the girls. My scope was small but very focused – and every element of life there entangled itself with my identity. When I came home to visit, I represented Germany, BFA, and the dorm girls. They became part of how I defined myself.

Now, my life has changed. I constantly find myself saying “we do this at the dorm” or “in Germany, we…,” forgetting for a moment that I don’t live there anymore. I’m not going back – except to visit. My role is no longer there, but here.

It’s a difficult adjustment of thinking, but every time I face such an adjustment I realize how sad it is to let my job or ministry become the sole representation of who I am. Yes, Germany and BFA and everyone I met there have incorporated themselves into my identity. Yes, I am now a beginning teacher (and hope to be a much better one in the future). Those are parts of my identity, but they are not the elements that define me. I am a person with likes, dislikes, interests, and disinterests outside of my job. I love to read, hate to play sports, enjoy good coffee, dislike watching football, relish a good game of Mafia, detest bananas, and thrive on gummy bears and dark chocolate. I am an adopted child of God, with the penalty for my sins paid in full, which frees me to be exactly as He intended, quirks included.


One Response

  1. i hope the teaching is coming along well. i hear ya. in palmgarten we do it this way. however, i’m starting to say more and more, “when I lived in the dorm…” which i guess is a start 🙂
    so, when are you going back to visit?

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