Maybe it’s the crisp air. Maybe it’s the lights up all over the place. Maybe it’s that I’ve been listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas music way too much. Whatever the reason, as I write this tonight I am filled with that good, old-fashioned Christmas cheer.
I just got back from a happy hour with some of my old coworkers from my last job. It was a great time to catch up, hear some funny stories and find out what’s up next for their lives. The crazy thing is that they were all interested in my life as well. No matter how I might have felt from losing my job, not one of them made me feel like I didn’t belong there in that same circle with them, even though they still had their jobs.
On the train home, I got to thinking about how much worth we can place on aspects in our life that really don’t define us. For the first month after I was let go I felt like a failure. I felt like I couldn’t hang with the rest of the crowd. But after a few hours with some of my old coworkers, it made me realize that if you do it right, people don’t see you as a job title, they see you as a friend.
It’s funny how we can invest so much of our lives into jobs that can be taken away from of us. We stake our reputation on them. We abandon families, morality and integrity for them. But our careers do not define us. Our lives define us. Our actions define us. Our job titles can change a thousand times in our lifetimes, but what really defines you will stick on you much longer than any name tag. As John Proctor from The Crucible put it, “It’s my name. And I can never have another.” (And you guys thought I didn’t know anything about literature.)
My favorite Christmas carol is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” I love the entire song, but the second verse is the one that hits me the hardest. “Mild He lays his glory by. Born that men no more may die.” In this Christmas season, many of us our celebrating the triumphant entry of a King. A King who came in a way no one expected Him to come. Mild. Humble. Unnoticed by the nobles. And yet here 2000 years later, we all know the story.
Life is full of moments that can (and should) humble us. Those are the moments that can so easily embarrass us. But our reaction to them is what people remember. I’m not claiming to be someone that is worth worshipping in any way. I’m just coming to realize that the things in my life that are so prestigious really tend to mean the least when it comes to what people think about me.
I wonder what we’ve bet so much of our self worth on that no one else really notices. I wonder what people see when they see us. Do they see job titles? Do they see good looks? Do they see how much money we have? Or do they see us for who we really are? Do you like who you are without any of the parts of your life that you value most?