As we navigate the holiday season, we are presented with countless opportunities to connect with all sorts of people. Whether it’s catching up with family at a reunion, attending a festive year-end party, or simply exchanging pleasantries with friends and acquaintances, this time of year is a chance to reconnect with those who matter to us, even if they aren’t always by our side.
During these interactions, we often realize that the true value of a relationship isn’t based on how often we see each other or how close we are but rather on the role we play in each other’s lives. Our identities and how we perceive ourselves and others can shift and evolve depending on the relationship’s context and dynamics.
So as we come together with loved ones and friends this holiday season, let us take a moment to reflect on the various facets of our relationships and how they shape and define us. And let us be grateful for the diverse tapestry of connections that enrich our lives and bring us joy.
We may think that our identities and those of others should remain constant throughout our lives, but the truth is that we all have many different aspects that change and adapt depending on the situation and the roles we play. For instance, with my mother, I have always been and will always be her small child that she worries about and takes care of. With my younger brother, on the other hand, I can never be anyone other than his elder brother, and I find myself giving him advice as his self-proclaimed mentor, whether I like it or not. And my grandparents have always been senior citizens to me, and while I can imagine they were once children and teenagers, I will never have firsthand experience of that.
Our relationships and the roles we play within them shape and define us in countless ways, and it’s essential to recognize and embrace the different perspectives of ourselves that emerge as a result. Whether with family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers, how we interact with others and the roles we take on can shape our identities and influence our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. So let’s embrace the complexity of our relationships and the multifaceted nature of our identities and be grateful for the rich tapestry of connections that enrich our lives.
In today’s society, it’s nearly impossible to avoid having relationships that shape and define us in various ways. When we attend a reunion with our elementary school classmates, we are immediately reminded of the specific roles and identities we held during that time, even if we are now much older. The same is true for high school reunions, where we are reminded of the unique bond we shared with our classmates during that time. And with friends from university, graduate school, and beyond, our relationships and interactions can vary greatly depending on the context and the shared experiences we had during those academic years.
These various factors of our relationships can be both enriching and challenging as we navigate the complexities of maintaining connections with people who know us in different ways and with whom we have shared specific life experiences. It’s important to recognize and embrace the diverse tapestry of connections that shape our lives and make us who we are and to be grateful for the unique roles that each relationship plays in our journey through life.
As adults, we often interact with colleagues, business partners, and customers in professional settings. While we may strive to build close relationships with these people by sharing personal values, life experiences, and preferences, the reality is that the essential dynamics of a work-related relationship are often firmly established. The topics we discuss are usually around work-related matters.
If you are in the family business, your brothers may also be your colleagues. Or, you may find yourself in a work-related relationship with an old elementary classmate or spouse. As with any relationship, the complexities and nuances of these professional connections are rarely straightforward. The variety of our relationships can be intertwined and multifaceted.
In this fast-paced and ever-changing world, keeping track of all the various facets of our relationships and the roles we play within them can be challenging. Suppose you are involved in a religious or ideological community, such as a church or temple. In that case, this membership can profoundly influence your every day relationships and how you present yourself to the world. Some communities may be supportive and enriching, while others may be destructive and isolate you from the rest.
On a larger scale, the nation-state in which you hold citizenship can also profoundly impact your life. In times of war, the brutal reality of conflict can overshadow everything else, and you may be forced to fight and potentially kill or be killed simply because of where you were born. Both sides suffer, each seeing the other as the enemy simply because of their nationality.
We all have to navigate the complexities of juggling multiple faces and roles in our relationships, which can be challenging and overwhelming. It’s important to take a step back and consider who we are and how the various balls we juggle shape and define us. Are we happy with them? Do they bring us joy or suffering? And ultimately, is our life a journey to seek out our true selves, or are we content to be who we are in the present moment?
God is never interested in the juggling balls we use to define ourselves and our relationships. He doesn’t care about our success or ability to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. Instead, He sees us as we truly are: struggling jugglers, lost and searching for meaning.
To realize His sight and see ourselves as He sees us, we must take a step back and view ourselves from a different perspective. We must look beyond the juggling balls and see ourselves as we are, stripped of the roles and identities that we use to define ourselves.
Only by stepping back and looking at ourselves this way can we truly hear His voice and be guided to gently and mindfully put down our juggling balls. As jugglers, we must rest and break from the constant juggling. We don’t have to be excellent at it and constantly strive for this performance.
When we realize that we are nobody and that our true identity lies beyond the various roles and responsibilities we take, we are ready to set ourselves free and follow God’s path. Let us all embrace this realization and find peace in the understanding that our true worth and value come from something more profound than the juggling balls of our lives.
When we fully embrace that we are nobody and that our true identity lies beyond the juggling balls of our lives, we are ready to fully open ourselves up to God’s love and guidance. We can lay down all our burdens and let go of the various roles and responsibilities. In this state of complete vulnerability and openness, we are ready to take on the cross of Christ and follow his path for us.
This realization can be both scary and liberating. It requires us to let go of our ego. But in doing so, we can embrace our true selves and find a more profound sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. We can find peace and contentment in following Christ’s path and living out his teachings, and we can find joy in the realization that our worth and value come from something deeper and more profound than the juggling balls of our lives.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
We are nobody and that our true identity lies beyond the juggling balls of our lives, our citizenship is in heaven and that we can converse with God on a deeper level. We can focus on our relationship with God and our spiritual journey.
God loves us unconditionally, regardless of our achievements or the juggling balls. His love is not based on our skills or ability to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. Instead, it is a love that is pure and all-encompassing and available to us all, no matter who we are or what we have done.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:Philippians 3:20
God loves us all because He knows that we will all be nobody at death. This realization can be both humbling and empowering, reminding us that our worth and value come from something deeper and more profound than the various roles and responsibilities we use to define ourselves.
By embracing this unconditional love and trusting in our faith, we can learn to love our neighbors in the same way and find true joy and fulfillment in this life and the next.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.Matthew 22:37
Image by Theodor Moise