by Rosie Adle
I went to a lab to get my Vitamin D levels checked. It’s trendy these days. Think of it: You, too, could be deficient, just like I am!
While I was there, the tech and I had a conversation that has stayed with me since. Here’s (approximately) how it all went down …
Lab Man asked if I had kids.
Interesting! I thought. And surprisingly personal. Wasn’t expecting that!
I told him I have five.
He didn’t hesitate. “Five kids?! If I had five kids, I’d kill myself.”
Hmm … I thought. I dislike self-harm-related hyperbole or humor. To me, it’s not funny. But I won’t scold a stranger.
I gave myself a moment to think about what he might mean.
He probably thinks kids are loud or messy or expensive or hard to take care of.
Then I thought some more.
Well, he’s right, but what of it? Who said the goal of life was for it to be quiet and neat and lucrative and easy?
I didn’t say that, though.
Instead, I smiled and said, “No, no. You can’t mean that. If you did have five kids, I hope you would never consider such a thing. Just think how many people would miss you!”
Some — perhaps even my new friend Lab Man — would scorn the thought of deriving their sense of identity and value from their relationships with others. I don’t see what’s wrong with it.
It’s not that I have low self-regard (almost a criminal offense in today’s culture). But I can’t help understanding my “self” to be based, at least in part, on who I am in relation to others in my life.
First, I’m a child of God. That’s what we call a foundational truth. Everything else rests on this.
Building from there, God gave me to my people, and He gave my people to me.
I’m not an isolated dot cruising along on a tidy grid in which my line will never intersect with that of another. My line is crisscrossing with other lines all over the place. It overlaps frequently with those of my husband and my five children, my neighbors and my fellow church members. It even crosses with lab employees! I understand my dot — my self — within the context of all these intersections. And I think that’s a good thing.
Not everyone is a spouse. Not everyone is a parent. But all people are someone’s child (whether their parents are still living or not). Many people are someone’s sibling. Lots of people are someone’s neighbor. And hopefully, most people are someone’s friend.
What’s more, all believers are adopted children of God, and fellow members of Christ’s own body, the Church. This gives us a sense of worth that is unshakable.
In light of this, I wonder: Is self-sufficiency — like Lab Man seemed to favor — even a real possibility, or are we all, on our own, as deficient as I am without my Vitamin D?
It is a fine thing — a very fine thing — to consider those around you as essential contributors to your identity and feeling of worth. Self-regard is bigger than thinking of one’s self at all times. It has to be.
Be someone’s someone, and be thankful for whatever sense of purpose that gives you.
I know I am.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Deaconess Rosie Adle is an online instructor for the distance deaconess program of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. She is deficient in many areas, Vitamin D being but one of them.