Being at the Dangerous Intersection of What and Who

I have a very dear young friend that recently found herself at the intersection of what and who. A new diagnosis has come with labels that are disparaging, to say the least, to her.

Her texts seemed crowded with tired, frustrated, angry, and fearful at she stared at the dangerous intersection. It felt overwhelming. 

By will, want, or the waywardness of others, most of us have found ourselves at the intersection of what and who along the way. We forget that while we stand (or sometimes teeter) in the epicenter of our personal intersections, we can choose which way to turn

Of course social media profiles don’t help one bit with safely navigating the intersection of what and who. This is my list of whats on my Twitter account:

“believer, wife, writer, parent, grandparent, educator”

Great . . . but does that really tell you who I am?

Recently my friend (and editor), Theresa, and I were enjoying lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, and working on my current manuscript, Jubilee and the Stinky Fish.

When the laptops and notebooks came out, our server, Aaron, stopped by and excitedly asked, “Are you writing a book?”

Aaron happily asked one question after another, which I was thrilled to answered. Finally, he grinned and chuckled, “You’re a storyteller! I am, too!” Aaron was the icing on the cake of an already productive editing session, with a side order of fellowship with one of my favorite people.

The next week, I went to lunch (Yes, again. I do lunch with friends every time I get the chance.) with another dear friend. Nora started as my principal, became my mentor, advocate for my kids, and someone near and dear to my heart.

We shared a good meal and our most recent adventures. When we parted, Nora smiled, her eyes twinkling, and said she enjoyed spending time with me. What a gift! Even though she knows my whats, Nora cares more about my who.

I didn’t connect the dots between the conversations with the server and my mentor/friend until I received a text from my young friend about her prognosis.

How easily and loudly the world screams at us to accept identifying ourselves by what we do instead of who we are.

Do we extol the positive traits of who others are, or by what they do? Do we hope others describe us by our whos instead of our whats?

Being at intersection of what and who can be a dangerous place, can’t it, Dear Reader? We have an important decision to make. (And truth be told, we will probably be challenged to make the decision repeatedly in our lifetimes.)

cemetery, tombstones, fog-6924773.jpg

Pardon my morbidity, but ask yourself what five or six words would you choose for your headstone? Architect, dentist, server, hiker, chef, and painter are all good words, but are they the legacy you want to leave?

Or do you want your last words, the ones chosen at the dangerous intersection of what and who, to resonate with those who have known and loved you? Words like kind, generous, merciful, peacemaker, righteous, joyful.

Dearest Reader, I cannot leave this on such a sad note. Truly, I wanted this blog piece to afirm you, encourage you to think about and celebrate all the many parts that make you the “apple of (God’s) eye” (Psalm 17:8 RSV). 

While you’re wondering what those five or six last words may be, here’s a gentle reminder, Dear Reader, that in God’s eyes you are precious, honored, and loved (Isaiah 43:4 RSV).

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