How to Be Indestructible

Once, there was a night janitor where I work.

He was a hard worker but pleasant, too. His English wasn’t fluent but we had brief, friendly chats.

One night, he said to me, “You are so kind to me. I want you to know that in my own country, I used to be somebody.”

“I used to be somebody.” I understood what he was saying.

Have you ever been separated from the things that once defined you?

Maybe it was your career, your marriage, your appearance, or an ability you had but lost.

How lost did you feel?

How hard was it to meet new people and to answer the most basic questions like where do you live, or what do you do, or are you married?

There really is no way to understand the naked exposure of losing that which defines you until it happens. And then, even though you know in your mind that others have gone through it, still, you feel very alone.

Here in America, that janitor works three, sometimes four jobs. He wears coveralls and comes to work as everyone else is leaving. He mops floors, cleans toilets, and takes orders from a young man who could have been his grandson. People seldom speak to him except to point out a spot that he missed or to ask him if he’d mistakenly taken a member’s missing cell phone. Three times they ask him, just in case.

In his country, he was a professor at a university, head of department. He taught Psychology. He enjoyed his subject, his research, and his students but there were limitations on his life and certain dangers.

In this country, he is no one. But in this country, his children do not live in fear.

Sometimes, there are compelling reasons to leave what defines us behind.

Usually, it’s not a venture we take on willingly. There’s usually a trigger, an inciting incident, a personal tsunami that rolls in and when it rolls out, we are stripped of that which used to hide the naked truth of our unadorned selves.

Now, here we stand. Just a person. Without credentials or references or photo id’s. We simply are.

It doesn’t feel like enough.

Especially, when others are dressed so well in their degrees and designations, their designer clothes and deeds of ownership, their pedigrees and histories and accomplishments and their entourage ready to offer testimonials on their behalf

We think about how, in our old country, we used to be somebody. Now, we’re not.

Most of us only enter this condition when compelled by forces beyond our control. No one volunteers to be a refugee.

But Jesus willingly stripped off all that would identify Him as God, as Creator of the Universe, as THE WORD, and became a nobody, just a baby born to some poor couple on a busy night in the city.

When He stepped into our story, He came as no one, revealing His true self only to those who took the time to take a second look.

The apostle John wrote one of the saddest passages of scripture in this: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:9-11

Have you ever experienced that? Rejection by those who used to call you their own? Refusal by those once close to you to even acknowledge you any longer?

Have you ever become nobody in front of everyone who once thought you were somebody?

Jesus did.

And like the night janitor where I work, He had a compelling reason for leaving everything that outwardly defined Him behind and outwardly becoming nothing – His love for and obedience to His Father who loved us so dearly, He sent His only son.

He wanted His children to live free from fear.

And so, He showed us that becoming nothing is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Giving up our identity, leaving our home, descending from the heights, this is nothing to fear.

Separation from the Father’s love – that is a fearful condition.

But because Jesus came, we never need to fear that again, if we receive Him.

To find our identity in the measures of this world is natural.

To find our identity in our relationship with Jesus Christ is to touch our eternal selves and to know the freedom of living indestructible lives.

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1 Comment

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  1. Linda Castro says:

    “I used to be somebody”. Personally, I used to own two advertising agencies and write/direct TV commercials, etc. Now I am the 24/7 caregiver for my 43-year-old son. This blog was very encouraging to me!