Finding our identity amidst a pandemic.

It’s no secret that we’re living in unprecedented times. Wearing masks nearly everywhere we go (including the bank – imagine that!), much of everyday life cancelled… many of us out of work completely, and for those of us who do still have work, it looks completely different in multiple ways.

While so many different opinions on how to handle everything and reactions to what is happening are filling our news feeds, thankfully there’s still a good amount of humor regarding it all. One such thought that I’ve seen now multiple times – asking for a hard reset on 2020. You know, turning it off and turning it on again (typically the first step in troubleshooting electronic devices). Unfortunately, though, such a reset is not really a realistic option.

In the weeks leading up to the major shutdown, my church was in the middle of a sermon series regarding “faith at work” – how we can apply and live out our faith in the workplace. There was a lot of really good stuff, and much of it has been helpful for me as I continue to seek the Lord’s direction and calling on my life.

One of the last few messages, I think perhaps the first Sunday in March, has been coming to mind again lately. And the theme from that message that I have really been pondering, the theme that I want to share with you today?

Identity.

Most of us would freely admit that some of our identity is tied to our job/occupation/profession. Some of us might even admit that much of our identity is tied up in what we do for a living, perhaps at times even more than it should be.

But as our pastor challenged us that Sunday with the following question, so I will challenge you, reader, today.

Who are you?

Anything short of the honest, gut reaction answer wouldn’t be doing us any favors. In this setting, sure, we might think to answer with something other than “I am a teacher”, or “I am a banker”. But when we’re not at church, when we’re not reading some random blog post about where to find our true identity… how would we answer?

I know that I struggle to answer initially with something other than my profession. I think that in our society today, it’s just the natural way to view that question. There’s nothing inherently wrong with answering that way, no. It’s okay for a part of our identity to be tied to what we do for a living, especially if it’s something to which we truly feel called.

Even just two short months ago, when I first began thinking about all of this, there wasn’t nearly the danger or harm in correlating the two that there might be today.

Why is there (potentially) so much more harm today than there was two months ago?

Well, as I said in opening this post… many people are either out of work or working in a drastically modified way. Many other aspects of life right now are especially difficult and challenging, and so if we have our identity tied up in the work that is now vastly different… well, we can all imagine the emotional effect that could have on a person.

Right as this all was beginning, a co worker and dear friend shared with me some very real concerns regarding our work (commercial airline, ramp). Apparently it’s been said that individuals who work successfully in aviation (particularly ground crew) have a hard time finding work in other industries. Working ramp is so different than almost any other work, and it’s something that those of us working it absolutely love.

It also has been hard at work watching the things we love just kind of… disappear. Into thin air, and seemingly overnight. Yes planes are still flying, but hardly any. And for the last month or so, the few planes that have been flying have been going out incredibly empty. The flight loads are starting to increase, sure… but we still have a long road ahead of us.

That’s just a small glimpse of the emotional difficulty we have experienced at work, and I’m sure many others could tell similar stories within their professions.

So when the message from my church came to mind the other day, particularly the loving challenge of how we answer the question “who are you?”… I knew I needed to share this truth.

More than our professions, more than the jobs we work.
More than the families we have, the people we love…

We are children of a Living God.
Chosen.
Loved.
Forgiven.
Redeemed.

No matter who you are, what you have done, what you haven’t done. No matter how far we have run from God in the recent days, months, years, our whole life…

He loves us.
And He came so that we could have a relationship with Him.

Galatians 5 is some of my favorite scripture that speaks to this…

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law…. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…” (v. 1, 13-14)

Paul is reminding us here that, because of Jesus, we have freedom to live as children of God. We have freedom to be human, we have freedom to love others around us because we know that – no matter what – we are deeply loved by the King of Kings.

It has been clear in my own life for many years, but especially in this last year, just how much the idea that “loved people love much” really is true. I make it my goal in life to love other people fiercely because I want them to know just how deeply and passionately God loves them.

This season of life is likely teaching all of us so many things. And as painful as it is, I think it can be a good thing to face the reality that our identity might be wrapped up a little too much in our job title.

Ponder the following thought…

“Our true identity does not lie in what we do or even who we are… but in WHOSE we are.”

Friends, we belong to Jesus. And through the strength that can ONLY come from Him and His gift of the Holy Spirit, we have the strength to make this our main focus throughout these crazy times.

After the idea for this post came to me, one song came to mind… and it has remained what I feel is perhaps the most fitting for this truth.

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it,
You drowned my fears in perfect love.
You rescued me so I can stand and sing…
I am a Child of God.
I’m no longer a slave to fear…
I am a Child of God.”

Wow.
Let those words sink in for a moment.

Fear does not have to rule our lives.
A lost or missing identity doesn’t have to rule our lives.
This song says it so plainly and beautifully, over and over and over…

We are Children of God.

Be blessed today, friends.

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