I have a love/hate relationship with small talk.
I know that it's pretty popular to despise small talk, but I can't get fully on board with that movement. I've had too many great conversations and connections come from chatting about work, the weather and the location of people's current or former home to completely write it off. I'm also aware that it can actually inhibit true connection. Sometimes it's just a swirl of information swapping and never gets to anything people are passionate about.
One of my least favorite aspects of small talk is when it comes to vocation. I never quite know how to ask the question.
1. I never want to assume that people are currently employed somewhere. It can deeply sting to have your identity reduced to employment and asking it as a first question can do just that.
2. There is this strange dynamic in the U.S. where we assume that you need to be passionate about what you do for work. In small talk I'm trying to discover the other person's passion and talk about work can sometimes do the opposite. This can expose a strange guilt in people that they've done something wrong by not earning money via their greatest passion.
3. I don't want to keep reinforcing the narrative that people's value is found in what they do for work. If this is consistently one of the first things we ask each other, we are saying that what we do for work is one of the most important aspects of our identities.
One of the places that this becomes most evident is in the crisis of identity that people feel in changing jobs, losing jobs or being without jobs that financially compensate us. We've wrapped up our identity in our jobs, which has about as much to do with our identity as our clothing or vehicle choices. They are all areas where our identity can find expression, but they are definitely not to be confused with our identities.
This message is a transition in our Liturgical Flow message series from Grief & Sadness to Release of Shame. We have the great privilege of hearing from Lindsay and Koes Bong, who share so much with us about seeing and letting the shame within us go.