Have you ever been called something before that really bothered you (probably more than it should have)?
Often, you're identified by an occupation, hometown, or favourite hobby. These labels can really cut close to the heart. There's the time and energy you invested in these arenas, the friendships you formed throughout, and the lasting impact that these friendships had in shaping who you are.
They become part of your identity; some for seasons, and others for your entire life.
Ever since I began trying to impersonate the commentators on Hockey Night in Canada, I knew I wanted to become a broadcaster. I was one of those rare kids who knew what he wanted to do from a young age. My grade-eight yearbook even attributes this, as my career ambition was listed as "announcer".
After completing four years of training to be a journalist, it was only fitting that I would transition to work in this field. I made this my pursuit, but was slightly redirected to become a radio personality at LIFE 100.3. As exciting as this new adventure was, the conversion from reporter to DJ affected me at a deep level; one that I didn't fully realize until recently.
Despite the many hours logged on-air, the consistent feedback from more seasoned broadcasters, and the sheer enjoyment I got from turning on the microphone, I struggled to fully own my role for what it was.
The reason? I have forever disliked the title, “DJ”. I remember cringing when I saw it listed on my job description. It's a term that I've perceived as belittling and petty. I'm not sure if this stems from any arrogance I had in feeling the utmost need to go to University for my education. It could also come from the pride I had in my work as a newscaster and reporter at our campus radio station, and perhaps a growing depreciation for the aspiring DJs we worked with.
The way that I got around this was by redefining my role as a "radio personality". While this title often needs more clarification, this is how I've coped.
The problem was that this bad taste I had for being a "DJ" never went away.
That was until one day, when my friend Kelsey introduced me to friend of hers and brought up the fact that I was a "DJ". This led to some questions, and so I explained more fully what my job entailed. I also went on to gently point out to Kelsey that my preference is to be referred to as a "radio personality" (for the reasons I've mentioned above).
Her reaction surprised me. Kelsey didn't look down on "DJs" the way that I did. Rather, she seemed genuinely impressed and appreciative of the work done by those in my field.
This conversation helped me see that the perception I had for my job title was a little daft, and more than that, I needed to get to a vantage point where I didn't take being a "DJ" so personally. Ultimately, it was a sobering reminder that I was placing too much identity in my work status.
As you scan your life, I'm sure you too could find names and descriptions thrown at you that didn't sit well. Some of these might be downright unnecessary, but others likely just prickle you the wrong way. They're connected to a deeper part of your life, and perhaps they are something that you need to let go of.
I understand how challenging it is to do this, because if you don't put your identity in your work, then by default, you'll have to define yourself by something else like your family or lifelong ambition. Unfortunately, all of these things are temporary.
What happens when you go back to your hometown and all of your friends have moved away? What happens when you're no longer good enough to play your favorite sport competitively? What happens when you retire from the career you devoted 30+ years to? What happens when your kids have moved out of the house? What happens when you're the only one still living in your family?
When your identity is placed in areas like these, it's dependent on a performance that will eventually decline, or on a set of relationships that will one day break apart. They can't fully satisfy.
Only in Jesus Christ can you find absolute security. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
In Jesus, I'm reminded that who I am doesn't come from my occupation, but instead comes from being a son of God; a status that I by no means deserve, but one that I accept and know will last eternally.
The reason I can so freely release my identity from other aspects of my life and attach it to Jesus is because my standing is not based on anything that I do; it's based solely on what Jesus Christ has done on my behalf.
If you too have experienced this newfound freedom in Jesus, then you understand the weight that gets lifted from your shoulders.
If you haven't, all I ask is this: what's stopping you?
Accept Jesus as Saviour today, and find the life that's been intended for you all along.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11).