“HI, I’M DALE KREIENKAMP, head of human resources for …” Very often, that’s how I would introduce myself. My introduction, and maybe yours, identified me with where I worked and what I did for a living. But how about now, when I don’t have a job? Who am I today?

It’s a great question and one I searched for answers to. At first, I wasn’t as quick to introduce myself as I’d been in the past, maybe shying away a little. I’m not normally shy; I’m an extrovert. I just felt awkward about what to say because I could no longer say what I had said for years. When I tell people I’m in between jobs, the reactions vary. For many, it’s like telling them you have cancer. They don’t know what to say and they certainly don’t want it to happen to them. For some, it kills the conversation. Most, however, are sympathetic and want to help—they just don’t know how.

Often it was me putting others at ease, assuring them everything would be okay. It gave me a chance to share my faith, telling them I believed in God and that I trusted he had a great plan for me. During this journey, I began to realize that too much of me had been wrapped up in what I did and who I worked for, neither of which are the most important things in life.

In Sheila Walsh’s book, Life is Tough, But God Is Faithful, she talks about the time a growth on her vocal cord required that she cancel a concert tour. She faced the possibility of an operation and never singing again. It was a tough blow and she spent many hours in prayer, but what she revealed about the experience was what I needed most to hear. She writes, “I got the distinct impression that God was saying, Sheila, don’t you understand that I love you because of who you are and not for what you do? Your security has been all wrapped up in thinking of yourself as Sheila Walsh the singer, the evangelist, the speaker, the person who goes out there and does it all for Me. But that’s not why I love you. If you never sing another note, it will not matter to Me. I don’t need you to do things for Me. I just really love you.” That is so perfectly said.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Ephesians 2:8-10, which reads, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Our identity is not found in what we do, but in what God has done for us. It’s about God’s grace, not what we do—and that can be hard to accept. We are God’s handiwork; in return whatever we do is done in thankful response to his love.

Take this time to let God love you for who you are, not for what you did in your old job or what you will do in your next. It’s not who you are; it’s whose you are.

Excerpt from How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them.

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