"Who am I?" you ask when you've just lost your job. Along with the loss of your job, you feel you've lost everything. How can you keep feeling worthwhile when your identity is gone?
When someone used to ask who you were, you answered, "I'm a nurse or I'm a professional golfer or I'm a secretary." You added your name, but you wanted others to know you were something, besides just a person. Without that title you feel devalued. Now when another person asks your name, you feel like you're nobody.
One often feels that he must have a crutch -- another person, a special skill or be notable in other ways to count for something -- to be somebody. A fine house, prestige or numerous other worldly trappings must be attached for him to feel that he actually matters and to appear to be successful. He looks for ways to be rich. But does being poor really mean that one lacks material possessions or other artificial valuables people think they must have?
You might question, when everything has been taken from a person, what he has left to live for. His possessions and prestige are gone. His friends have turned their faces away from him and he feels like a man with no place to go.
As an exercise to see how I would be affected if I lost all my material possessions, I visualized such a situation and attempted to immerse myself inside it emotionally. I envisioned being stripped naked and tried to be realistic about my feelings. I concluded that although my pride would be squashed, my ability to survive financially would prove difficult and I would be embarrassed before other people, I could survive. I would always have God and hopefully my loved ones would remain. I would be OK. The reason I could come to that conclusion was because of my faith in God and hopefully that would remain strong.
I resorted to Scripture and remembered Job, who lost everything, even his health and family. One wonders at his fortitude. Despite his horrible circumstances he never lost faith in God. Job never became spiritually poor. Instead he continued realizing he was somebody. Consequently, his prayers were answered and everything was restored with more than he had before.
The best example of someone being stripped of everything, however, was Jesus Christ. He lost his dignity -- even his life. Although Jesus knew the reason he still felt physical pain and scorn. Despite what he endured, he knew on Easter morning he would rise again.
Regardless of what rejection, injustice and physical pain people face Christians are promised that they, too, will rise again from all kinds of loss. Even though someone seemingly has nothing left, he can always bounce back and triumph because he's a child of God -- somebody in God's estimation. Our wealth isn't determined by what we own, our title or what we can accomplish so believe you're something wonderful even when you appear to have nothing. You too will rise on your Easter morning.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.