The Dreaded Question...

What is it that I do? It’s a simple enough question, right. On the surface it seems harmless. “What do you do?” People ask this question all the time especially when meeting someone new. This question fills me with anxiety because I’m not sure how to answer. For me, when I’m not sure about something it leads to insecurity. Even more so when I feel like it’s something that, at 35, I should have figured out by now.

When I graduated college and passed the boards it was easy, I was a nurse. When I had my babies it was easy, I was a stay at home mom that worked as a nurse occasionally. Now that my kids have gone to school, it’s left me with a bit of a question mark. I usually say, “I’m a nurse” because that’s the safest response. Do we typically classify something we do once a week or less as our “job?” No, but it takes the least explanation on my part. If I told you I was a writer, let’s be honest, that sounds fake. The fake job that makes no money. If I told you I was a stay-at-home mom, well, then you’d ask how old my kids are and I’d tell you their ages and you’d deduce that they, in fact, are in school every day. Then I would get the same question with a side of passive aggressive judgment, “So what do you DO all day while they’re at school?” It’s subtle but it’s there. Or at least I think it’s there. It’s actually probably not there but I’m insecure so I misinterpret things all the time to be a dig at me.

So, what do I do?

The world places a lot of value on what we do. It’s how we identify people and put them into categories. Some jobs are important, others less so. We’ve made up things like “status” to go along with jobs. This way we can value/devalue each other depending on the importance of our jobs. We can puff up with pride when the world recognizes our job as important. Or we can cower in insecurity when it’s not, or at least we don’t think it is. Or we defend our jobs to the death so people will know how vital our jobs are to humanity.

I’ve believed the lie again. I was praying about this very thing the other day. Trying to get some kind of affirmation and clarity from God on what’s my purpose and what am I supposed to be doing with my life. You know, just a regular Tuesday for the introvert. And somewhere during the prayer, it happened. If I’m at home by myself I tend to pray aloud because it helps me work out my thoughts. It also helps me not fall asleep. So while I’m working out my request to God (because it’s all about me) He revealed something to me that I had never really considered before.

He calls me by name.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Is. 43:1

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

“And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Ex. 33:17

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.” Rev. 3:5 (Emphasis is mine)

He calls me by name. He doesn’t call me by what I do. He doesn’t call me Nurse, or Mom, or Writer (because that sounds fake). When He thinks of me, He doesn’t associate me with my job, I’m just Courtney to Him. I also love in that last verse, that it’s only my name in the Book of Life, not my accomplishments or transgressions, just my name. My name gives me value, not my job. Though I don’t always think it’s in the form of a “job” for everyone, I do believe God has work for us to do here on earth. It says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” My mind tries to play tricks on me and tell me that it’s only “good work” if it has an important title. If I volunteer all my free time at a nonprofit, then it’s good work. If I support every cause for needy children, then it’s good work. If it gets recognition, if it helps a lot of people, if it requires a lot of money, THEN it will be good work.

I’m slowly figuring out that in the end, God is the only one I need to care about knowing my name. I’m here to make His name great, not mine. And “good work” may look like taking my kids to practice, or cooking dinner, or having a good attitude when I’m at my nursing job. Good work can look like watching someone’s kids while they go to an appointment. It can look like taking someone a meal. It can look like being a prayer warrior for someone during a hard time. These things don’t get a lot of recognition but they do matter.

So for those of you needing a reminder (me), God cares more about your name than your title. Maybe writing it down this time will help me remember.

Does anyone else struggle with this "what do you do?" question. I'd love to know!


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