How many times have I listened to The Who‘s song “Who Are You?” during the opening of CSI? I’d never noticed that I had that song on my Best of the Who CD until long after we started watching the show.
But no. This post isn’t about The Who or about CSI. It’s about how people (men, especially) identify themselves. And, ultimately, how I identify myself.
If you ask a man who he is, he’ll normally answer first with his name. Uh, if he doesn’t cross his arms defensively and ask why you want to know.
But chances are he won’t feel he’s told you adequately who he is until he tells you what he does for a living. Even though some women are like that, too, it seems to be a more typically male characteristic.
Why do men do that? I’m no psychologist, but I’d guess it’s because our sense of worth is based so much on our work. It’s almost as if we feel the need to justify our existence.
Pride may play a role in it, too. If we’re some of the fortunate men who thoroughly enjoy what we do for a living and feel we’ve become pretty good at doing it, then telling other people our vocation is a bit like bolding and underlining our names.
I used to feel that way myself. Not so much when I was teaching school. Or when I worked as a job counselor/interviewer at a state job service office. But when I returned to college part-time to study computer programming and maintained a 4.0 average for the twenty-four credits I earned, that gave me a higher sense of self-worth than I’d experienced in my two previous careers.
And when I became really good at what I was doing–the workplace was quite different from the classroom, so it took a while–I became so proficient at the kind of programming I did that I knew I could probably get a good job almost anywhere in the world.
Maybe I couldn’t boast about that when identifying myself as a programmer, but it gave me the greatest sense of self-worth I’d ever had.
But then came my last year of employment in Information Technology. No need to go into specifics, but I was assigned to a task I simply failed to catch on to. So when the company I worked for downsized, I wasn’t surprised to be one of the people laid off.
From a purely secular point of view, it’s a wonder my self-worth didn’t totally evaporate at that stage. But as a Christian, I came to appreciate the fact that I had worth–tremendous worth–that had nothing to do with my vocation. Or my success at anything I did.
The Bible tells us that everyone is a sinner. That doesn’t mean we’re all horrible people, but it does mean we’re all unacceptable to the perfect God who made us. Yet God sent His only Son to die and be raised to life again to make us acceptable.
What could give us a greater sense of worth than that?
Who am I? I’m Roger E. Bruner. Yes, I used to teach school. I used to help job seekers. I used to program computers. And now I’m retired to do what I really love: writing fiction. But writing novels–even novels that have sold several thousand copies–doesn’t make me who I am.
I am who I am because I am His..
I realize that today’s post is bold. For some people’s tastes, it may even seem a bit “in your face.” But it’s part of who I am. A part that won’t permit me to remain silent when discussing what makes me who I truly am.
Are you a believer? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Please leave a comment.
I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.
“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”-–check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.