I watched a movie last night (Blue Valentine), in which the wife of a struggling, unhappy couple asked the husband why he didn’t apply himself more to improving his job situation (he was a house painter). He had so much potential, she said.
What I want is to be a husband and father, he answered. I work my job so I can come home to you and (their daughter). Earlier in the movie, there’s a scene—a flashback scene—in which Ryan Gosling meets his future wife’s parents for the first time. The first question the dad asks is, “What does your father do?”
“He’s a janitor,” Ryan Gosling answers (a hint of shame enters the room). “He’s a good janitor, though. And he’s an amazing musician. He can play anything.”
My dad was a doctor–a good doctor. As a child, I sometimes felt a twinge of pride when people asked what job he had. I enjoyed answering the question. Looking back on it, it sounds strange to take pride in something I had nothing to do with. But it just goes to show: even as children, we are learning the rules. Janitor=bad; banker=good.
I’ve always struggled with an answer when people ask what I do. The things I most want to talk about are the things that happen when I get off work for the day—investing in friendships, serving in church, leading a community group, writing, dating…the list goes on. I think it sucks that I’m compelled to answer with I work for…
I busted my ass to get the job I have in San Francisco. I’m proud of how I busted my ass. But there’s no way I’m going to let anything define me except the things that have eternal weight—the way I’m loving people, and loving God.