← back to list

Oops...I Did It Again!

Posted by Lorianne Lee on

 

Oops...I Did It Again!

Did you know Britney Spears’ first album came out 20 years ago? The media has been filled with lots of nostalgic posts, and it got me thinking...


Copyright: jasmeet / Flickr

I was a teacher for nineteen years. Before that, I went to school to get a college degree and teaching credential. That’s over a quarter century devoted to one ambition. My life revolved around teaching. My evenings, weekends, and vacations were filled with correcting papers, grading essays, planning future lessons, and writing progress reports and report cards. I taught my students during the day, mentored and provided training for other teachers, and took continuing education classes for my professional development.

I worked long hours, was good at my job, and enjoyed what I did.

When I resigned, I had a huge identity crisis. God encouraged me to leave teaching, but he didn’t tell me what to do next. At that time, I had devoted more than half of my life to being a teacher and professional educator. I was a teacher. That’s who I was. When I left the classroom, I was no longer Miss Lee, the teacher. Who was I? I had to grapple with that question before I could do anything else.

Not knowing what to do next was hard for a recovering control-freak like myself. Without my identity as a teacher, I felt pressure to quickly find a job so I would know who I was. I figured I’d get a job quickly and parlay that into a career that I would have until I retire.

Changing careers after nearly 20 years was really hard. The enemy had a field day filling me with doubt and negative self-talk to discourage me. The lies said my identity was in being a teacher and no one would want to hire a teacher in a non-teaching position. How was I supposed to approach a job search with that mentality?

Thankfully, God had other ideas. While I wanted to quickly get a job and move on to the rest of my life, God wanted me to be still and trust in his timing. He wanted me to find my identity in him instead of a job. During that season, God showed me how I had a habit of finding my identity in what I did instead of in him. As I reflected, the pattern of striving and doing more and more to try to earn acceptance was so obvious in every area of my life—work, sports, church, family, and relationships.

After several months, when God was finally ready for me to start looking for a job, he asked me to be open to lots of possibilities. Instead of being laser focused on finding that one perfect job that I would have for the rest of my life, God encouraged me to be present to whatever opportunities he brought about, regardless of how long or short they lasted. After all, my identity was in him and not my job. This was a completely different mindset for me, but I obeyed. I literally had to keep telling myself that my identity and worth came from God and not whether I got a particular job or not. I did some consulting for one of my previous employers, learned some new skills, and eventually started working in human resources at my current non-profit.

When I started working at Cityteam, I told myself the job did not define me. I gave myself pep-talks, reminded myself that I was God’s beloved, chosen daughter regardless of where I worked or what I did. I quickly mastered my new tasks, increased my scope and responsibilities, and earned multiple promotions. In addition to my work, I continued to support our ministries as a volunteer and advocated for Cityteam whenever I could. I even heard a couple of people at church referred to me as “The Cityteam Lady”.

I worked long hours, was good at my job, and enjoyed what I did.

Oops...I did it again!

I didn’t notice as it was happening, but I can see it all too clearly now. Somewhere along the line these past five years, I lost sight of my identity in God and once again found my identity in what I do for work. The light bulb went on when, after getting used to working 12-14 hours a day, I did not feel relieved when some tasks were taken off of my plate. Instead, I felt like I was personally being discarded and deemed unimportant.

Thankfully, God was gracious and quick to set me straight. He reminded me that my identity is not found in my job. Sure, I can excel, do my work as unto the Lord, and enjoy what I do, but I can’t get lost in the allure of the lie that I matter more when I do more. Companies, supervisors, co-workers, titles, salaries, and tasks all change. I can’t let those circumstances that are out of my control dictate how I see myself. The only thing that is constant is God—his love for me and my identity in him.

With this reset, I feel like I am in a space where I can now evaluate my new parameters at work without attaching identity-threatened emotions and being easy-pickings for the enemy. I don’t know how long God will want me in my current job. I may work a long time and retire here. He may call me elsewhere. I don’t know. What I do know is I need to stop striving and looking to others for my validation and worth. My identity should be found in God, even if I work long hours, am good at my job, and enjoy what I do.

 

 

Lorianne Lee is one of the old-timers here at The River, having been a part of our church since our Sunnyvale days. She has been an active member of our community serving in a variety of ministries, mentoring, volunteering, and participating in and leading small groups. Lorianne is a doer, always finding herself busy and out of time. She is currently in a season of trying to slow down so she can be more present to God and those around her.

Comments

to leave comment

Name: