A couple of nights ago I sat on the couch, warmly snuggled up with my 9 year old and 8 year old under my favorite blanket. The faux fireplace was roaring, my Santa coffee mug filled with delicious warmth, and the Christmas feels wafting nostalgically in the air. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was on TV and we were settled into a holiday tradition that no doubt was being observed in millions of homes around the country simultaneously.
I’m in the midst of my 41st year on earth, and I have watched this Christmas special more times than I can count. I know the story like I know the road that leads to my mom’s house. There is something beautiful in the familiarity. Somewhere along the way it transitioned from monotonous to momentous. Yet, on occasion, even the very familiar can catch you off guard with a line or happening that you haven’t quite noticed before.
Here I am watching Rudolph and Hermey, the peculiar elf with an affection for teeth, when their dialogue took on a different meaning. Here is how the discourse goes…
Rudolph: “WHO are you?”
Hermey: “I’m a dentist.”
Within those two sentences, that brief exchange, much of what ails us is clearly identified. Rudolph asked a question of identity. Hermey responded with an answer of activity, or desired profession in this instance. Rudolph wanted to better discover Hermey the man (or elf), and the only way Hermey knew to respond was to tell him about his dream, the occupation he desired.
Certainly for us all, the occupation we hold, the hobbies we enjoy, the talents we carry, help describe who we are as a person, but they do not define us nor are they the totality of our identity.
It’s the equivalent of asking a child, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We expect some impressive (or comical) answer that we can then oooh and ahh over. On some level, the attempt is set into motion to wrap someone’s identity in their job, their accomplishments, their ability to acquire wealth, etc.
We wouldn’t know what to do if a kid answered back, “I want to be good, loving, joyful, peaceful, relentless, pure, and faithful.”
I appreciate dreaming, and I certainly value having a healthy career and maximizing your capability. However, you are so much more than a title. You are so much more than a career, a bank account, a degree, or a list of accomplishments…or a lack thereof.
As you walk the road of self-evaluation, which should always be done with the light of God’s word and witness of Holy Spirit, you would be wise to ask yourself the question, “WHO am I?”
WHAT you do will change often in life. You may get a different job, or do the same job in a different place. As life unfolds you will have new responsibilities develop while others fade. But WHO you are, your nature, your soul, your level of faithfulness and obedience to God, those travel…they can remain, for better or worse.
To be clear, I am not a preacher. I am Jeremy, who happens to preach.
The whole of your identity is not wrapped up in one particular expression.
You may be a mom, but that is not WHO you are.
You may be a successful entrepreneur, but that is not WHO you are.
The problem with having your identity too interwoven with those types of things is that eventually they turn sideways. Something doesn’t go the way we hoped. What was succeeding starts struggling. Our capabilities falter a little. Then, if we have allowed our identity to rest in those places, we start assuming the worst about ourselves.
Simply put, think better, more deeply about yourself. You are more than a number or a title…you are more than a “dentist”