Uniting our ‘office self’ and ‘home self’ is simpler when Christ is involved

In a time when many people are working from home, it can be challenging for some to balance their “work personality” with their “home personality,” yet Christians are called to be united in their identity in Christ, no matter the circumstances.

“You can walk out the door and kind of be somebody else at the office. Now you’re just one person.” This telling observation caught my eye in a recent article exploring the real reasons we are missing the workplace these days — now that, for many, workplace and homespace are the same.

There is something normal and natural about wanting work and family to be separate. But we have to be careful also of the fallen tendency to bifurcate our very selves, not just to want office and home to be separate but to cultivate a separate “office me” and “home me.” 

Though one’s behavior should certainly differ depending on the circumstances in which one finds oneself and the relationships involved, one’s person, one’s identity underlying it all, should be unified. The person who walks out the door in the morning, the person greeting coworkers and taking questions in a meeting, and the person who puts the children to bed should be recognizable as the same person — hopefully a person growing daily in virtue.

One of our teaching Sisters the other day paid another Sister, her principal, a great compliment. “Sister is exactly the same at school as she is here at home,” she told me. “She is just as warm and motherly with the students and her teachers as she is with us Sisters; today, we had a little party, and she entered right into the fun, just as she would with us.” What a beautiful tribute.

How can we be “the same person”? We might adapt the famous phrase, “You are what you eat” to the present discussion and say, “You are what you love.” Christ said it better: “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Matt. 6:21). When our treasure is God, when we love the Only One Necessary (Luke 10:42), everything else in our lives falls into place under Him. We act in a particular way at work, in a particular way at home — always charitably — for love of Him. We become more and more integrated as persons.

On May 18, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s birth. He, like all saints, was “just one person,” all his actions and prayer rooted in his primary relationship, with Jesus Christ. His words can help guide us to unity of life: “Become who you are.”

Sr. Maria Veritas Marks is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.