“So what are you actually doing with yourself at the moment?”
Always a well-meant question, and yet it somehow never fails to hit that most exposed spot: my self-worth. I find myself responding with a flood of uninteresting details about exactly everything I’ve been doing, hoping that at some point the person listening will think, “Ding! Busyness target mass reached. Katie Fry is a worthwhile person.”
Because I find myself in an unexpected place. Instead of coming out of university into a regular, full-time job like most of my friends did (an expectation ingrained in us by our education system), I spent two years as church intern, before joining the staff part time last August and then getting married. Through prayer and pushing on doors, I’ve realised that for a season, God doesn’t want me to go out and find another ‘regular’ job to fill the rest of the time. And so here I am: post-uni, pre-children, and yet a part-time church worker and part-time housewife!
But why is this such a difficult thing? After all, I love both roles and actually feel hugely blessed to be in this season. And if I believe it’s where God has led me, why the anxiety?
It’s because, instead of listening to God’s voice, and letting Him tell us who we are, we listen to the wrong voices. We listen to the world. We listen to our own ‘inner voices’ and let them determine our identity.
And what they tell us is that we are what we do.
Think about it. The first question asked when meeting someone new is “What do you do?” And the answer is “I am a…” We are what we do. From that, our society determines our worth, our value and our identity.
But what happens in those seasons where what we do doesn’t necessarily fit with what the world considers to be worthwhile and significant? When we’re a stay-at-home mum? Or we’re retired? Or doing voluntary or part-time work? Or being a part-time housewife at the age of 24, like me?
This is when we realise that listening to those wrong voices doesn’t get us anywhere. We can’t build an identity on what we do, because it’s just too shaky a foundation. We all go through different seasons – sometimes through choice, sometimes through circumstances outside of our control – and what happens to our identity then? Stuck in a mire of comparison, frustration, self-doubt and an increasing sense of worthlessness, we find ourselves in a full-blown identity crisis.
But what does God have to say about who I am?
What about if we take a moment to listen to that other voice I mentioned? The one that brought the stars into being and calmed the seas.
The first two chapters of the book of Ephesians in the Bible are a great place to start. They tell us that we are each individual masterpieces , hand-crafted by a master creator as an overflow of His love, for the purpose of being His beloved children (2:10). Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us that God chose us before the creation of the world to be His adopted children, holy and blameless in His sight. He knows us intimately and has purposes and plans for each of us. And in chapter 2, where we see how sin – the bad or selfish choices we make – caused our relationship with God to break down, we see that God’s love for us never falters. He paid the cost necessary to restore that relationship, through the death of His Son Jesus. And then, as we put our trust in Jesus, we are welcomed back into the family of God – our sin forgotten, our identity as God’s children fully restored. Free to live out His wonderful plans for us here on earth, and free to spend eternity with our loving Father. The significance of eternity as a child of God is just staggering.
In Christ, I am a child of God.
That doesn’t change according to which season I’m in, or how busy I am. It’s a solid, firm foundation to hold onto even when things seem uncertain. And I don’t have to do anything! I just have to be.
So I’m praying that one day, when someone asks me that question – “what are you doing?” – I’ll be able to answer, “I’m learning to be.”