A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog this week posed the question that is today’s topic. Pastor Freed posed this question in the quote that he used – “Imagine that you have lost your occupational role and your family relationships. Who are you now?” (Brian Thorne)
I have posted here before that; men in particular seem to find their identities more in their jobs than even their homes. Certainly, their roles as husbands and fathers make up some part of how they identify themselves. I recently read part of an article on depression in older men that is supposedly caused by the changes that they encounter when they have retired. Perhaps the root cause of the depression in older, retired men is the loss of the “role” that they played in their work life. Their parental roles may have also become greatly reduced by that time.
The study that resulted in the article that I read looked at depression in homeless people who have no job, no family ties and even no home with which to identify. Those homeless who were diagnosed with depression struggled to answer the question, “Who am I?” Many retired men in particular struggle with the same feelings of depression, once their job identities are removed.
I have written here several times about loving yourself. Often that starts with forgiving yourself for past mistakes; however, it always comes down to accepting yourself as you are before moving on to the roles that you might be playing in your interactions with others. A big part of accepting yourself is acknowledging your relationship with God and His role in your life. The little prayer that I use a lot here – “Not my will, but thy will be done” – serve to free you from the time-wasting need to try to control everything in your life and lets you focus instead of using your time to be the best person that you can be in whatever roles you are playing.
Maybe you don’t have the identity of your old work role anymore, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities begging for your help in every community across this nation. Shifting the use of your time to volunteer work allows you to use many of the skills that you might have developed in your old work life to the betterment of others in you r community. The rewards in terms of your feeling of self-worth can be much greater than those that you received at work.
You may also find that your can increase your spousal role now that you have more time to give to the person who has been by your side for a long time. It’s not so much that you were ignoring that person as it is that you just didn’t have the time or maybe didn’t give it the priority that it deserved. You may find that you fall in love all over again with the one person that has been there all along.
One trap that is all to easy to fall into is living in the past. Avoid the tendency to say, “I used to be…” and instead focus upon what you are doing now, the who you are now. Whether it involves volunteer work or maybe a part-time job, share that instead of past accomplishments. Be more conscious of the time that you are spending with your life-mate and celebrate the joy that you can bring to their life by doing so. Take the time that you have now to continue educating yourself, either formally through classes or just through reading and exploring the answers to questions that you have.
If you start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day and vowing to make the best use of the time that you have been given, you will find that you don’t have time to be depressed because you are busy all day long working at making the lives of others better.
So, who are you? You’re the person that others are thankful is around to lend a hand or get things done. You’re the person whose life-mate is thankful is there for them. You’re the person with whom God is happy at the end of the day. Another quote from today’s installment to Jack’s Winning Word seems to fit here – “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.” (Max Lucado)
Be that guy/gal and you’ll know who you are because you’ve got your picture on God’s refrigerator.