Defining Moment: What You Do is Not Who You Are
What do you do? It’s an innocent enough question, and the most natural one to ask when you first meet someone new. It frequently comes up for me, because I tend to spend a lot of time in places with strangers. But recently, when I was surrounded by friends and family “What do you do?” popped up unexpectedly.
There are a few things you used to be able to count on: life, death, taxes and boring sermons. Not so anymore. Clergy from all denominations have gotten wise to the fact; that snoozers are so… yesterday. Your Pastor, Rabbi or religious leader knows, in order to get ‘em to keep coming back, ya gotta make ‘em laugh. A chuckle from a crowd that’s sitting in pews, is a much easier get than the stand-up facing a roomful of drunks at an improv club. The bar is very low. No one is expecting a sermon to be entertaining. The slightest light-hearted reference is sure to make even the most dedicated sourpuss smile.
It was opening night at my synagogue recently. is the New Year for Jews and it’s always a packed house. This year, our service was across the Internet so there was an even greater reach beyond the four walls of our sanctuary. Our Senior is an excellent speaker. Our , is too. Our Associate has big shoes to fill and it was his turn at the pulpit. He did not disappoint. I laughed, I cried, and I learned something new. But his winning streak didn’t stop there. The real oomph from a great sermon, comes afterwards. It works when you gather at the dinner table and you can actually remember what the Rabbi said. If you share it with others and it leads to lively discussion, that’s when you know your Rabbi’s words have touched you.
Here’s the gist. Hy Stoller loved numbers and he told his life story by counting. He had a schtick, that on any one day, if you asked, he could tell you how long he’s married. 45 years, 2 weeks and 5 days. For Hy, the defining moment of his life was his wedding day. He literally made each day count. My Rabbi’s grandfather Hy was an accountant, but he knew that his purpose wasn’t realized until he became a husband. Marriage gave him a wife to love, children and a family that was his reason for being.
Whenever someone asks me what I do, I talk about my work. There has to be a much deeper conversation before I mention my husband and our children. It would be a very unusual circumstance that would bring me to talk about my faith. And yet, my family and my faith are what define me. I’m trying to figure out how I should respond the next time someone asks me, “what do you do?” is a life coach who encourages us to version of ourselves when we‘re asked what we do. I’m going to take her advice and listen to my Rabbi. I’m determined not to define myself with a title. The next time someone asks me what I do, I’m going to pause, take a deep breath and tell them.
I met them in a restaurant,
running late as usual.
Taking too long to look perfect.
Brand new outfit, hair just done.
Must give them the impression,
I've got it all together.
But I still won't measure up.
They who have better jobs,
bigger houses, smarter kids,
more loving husbands.
Feeling jealous, I tell lies.
Weaving them into truths until,
I don't recognize the person I've become.
I implore You,
help me to see myself
through Your eyes.
Help me to know self-love,
self-worth, self confidence.
So I no longer feel inadequate.
A complete creation of Your finest work,
I am the diamond, You are the jeweler.
Every facet of my being is exquisite.
We are all Your diamonds.
Different clarity, different cut,
and all perfect in Your eyes.
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