Career & Identity: Part 2 Finding Opportunity in the Gray Zone

In Part 1 of the Career & Identity Series, I revealed how essential my career was to my security, identity, and confidence.  Due to circumstances outside of my control, I hopped around a lot in my career and life. There have been gaps of time where there wasn’t a job title to define my status. Friends, strangers, you name it - the question “what do you do?” is not unheard of. In fact, it’s usually the first question people ask you.

During some of these gaps of time, I couldn’t even fall back on the “stay-at-home-mom” title. I didn’t even have that! I was a “stay-at-home-wife” or popularly known as a housewife in the 1960’s.

I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who’s been titleless for months or years. Maybe some of you aren’t married - maybe you’re still living at home with your parents. These things happen and it’s no secret that society often interprets those times as failures.

I’m going to call this the gray zone. Maybe due to sickness, the loss of a family or friend, mental health, career disposition, or one of the other countless reasons - you’re in the gray zone. There’s no need to set an alarm in the morning and you find yourself wandering through your day.

Maybe you’ve discovered this but Netflix, food, booze, or whatever your security blanket is cannot and will not fulfill your need for identity or purpose. We were created by our Heavenly Father in a unique and beautiful way to work and fulfill a specific role in our community.

The way our society defines that role and the way the Bible defines that role can be very different.

You can “work” and not have a job title. You can have purposeful days without a check to prove it. In fact purpose, is actually much simpler than a job. Purpose is utilizing the strengths and gifts God has given you - for His glory.                        

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8

Remember, you don’t need to find a gap filler, nor do you need a quick fix so you have something to tell your friends and strangers.

5 Tips for Finding Opportunity

  1. Ask the Lord to show you what your strengths are. Evaluate what you enjoy doing.

  2. Get plugged in. If you aren’t a member of a local body of Christ, find a church family. The best place to practice and mature your role in a community is in a church.

  3. Create a schedule for yourself even if you don’t have a place to be at a certain time.

  4. Begin volunteering. Find a way to use your God given talents in an organization that needs you.

  5. Be entrepreneurial. Apply your interests and passions to something - God gave them to you for a reason.

  6. Stop comparing your success and purpose to the world’s.

Finally, let’s work together at being more intentional at how we get to know each other. Try an alternative question in lieu of “what do you do?”. Ask about their family, their interests, what they do for fun, where they are from, etc. Make sure people know they are more to you than their title. Changing a culture begins with us. If you expect people to care about more than your title, than you need to live it.