I read a quote a few days ago from Martin Lloyd-Jones, a Welsh Presbyterian minister and medical doctor who lived in the mid twentieth century. He said,
“…whole cemeteries could be filled with the sad tombstone: ‘Born a man, died a doctor.’”
Shortly after I came across a poem titled “C.V.” from the poet Sebastian Baker that speaks along the same lines:
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have found myself in a wilderness season of life. I spent the last ten years confident in my life’s direction but this last year, which involved moving from California to Washington and switching careers, has invited me into a liminal space. A liminal space being the place in between where I was and where I am going, much like the threshold of a door between two rooms. I find it is often in the liminal spaces where God does the most transformative work.
While this liminal space has at times felt destabilizing, painful, and scary, it has opened my heart to the richest of soil found only in the depths of the heart – this deep heart soil isn’t usually accessible when things go according to plan.
One of the gifts in tilling the deep heart soil is that I have learned a lot about myself. One of the lessons I’ve learned is how much of my identity I have placed in my profession, in my job. In a quiet and subtle way, I’ve slowly and mostly unintentionally placed more and more of my identity in my job. This was hard to notice when I loved what I did because my ego was soaking up all the sweet instant gratification but once I started doing something I didn’t love, my ego started to get upset. My ego wanted to feel important and powerful but it could no longer feed on my profession to get that.
This process quickly illuminated how much of myself was built off what I did. I have pondered long and hard as to why I have defined so much of myself through my career – losing my dad at an early age, feeling insecure, etc. but recently I have begun to move from trying to diagnose the “why” and have started asking a deeper and more fruitful question, “who am I?”
The Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr says, “True religion is not trying to make human beings spiritual. We’re already spiritual beings. Great religion is trying to make human beings human.” I believe God is on a mission to make Chris, Chris. God is not interested in making me a pastor, a doctor, or anything else – God wants me to become fully me.
Here’s the blessing… Once I am unhooked by my resume and/or career choice, I am freed to en-joy whatever profession I enter into without my identity being threatened.
The ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah speaks of our names being “engraved” on God’s hands – Not our accomplishments, failures, or profession. Our names. Me. You. Us.
Instead of a tombstone engraved with, “born a man, died a doctor.” What about a tombstone engraved with, “born a man, died Chris.”
Yeah, I think I like the sound of that…