Written by Bonnie Junell V. Abanid, Philippines
A professional title can be stripped away. That realisation dawned on me when I was barred from renewing my license by the office that regulated my profession. That was a complete shock to me since I had been able to accomplish it years ago. Having been denied a license became a major setback in my career.
I first became a Registered Psychometrician in 2015. This meant that I was trained to conduct psychological testing, and had been duly recognised by the government with an issued license. With the license, I could administer psychological tests, and score and interpret results, among others.
For six years, that title became an integral part of my identity. I began signing field-related documents with the initials “RPm” after my surname, and it felt truly rewarding to be able to do that. Having that credential gave me opportunities to teach, take on speaking engagements, and conduct counselling. I also became a guidance counsellor to senior high school students for two years.
My license became due for a renewal in April 2021. I decided to schedule an appointment two months prior to the expiration date given the uncertainties of the pandemic. “This should be easy,” I thought, since I was quite familiar with the process.
That day, I went to the office confident that I would be bringing home a freshly printed license card after a few hours. When my turn came, I presented my documents and waited briefly for the personnel-in-charge to confirm the next step. To my surprise, I was told that my certificate of good standing was sent to another branch (about 3 hours away from my location), and without that certificate, I could not have the license renewed.
Who am I without my title?
In a panic, I tried to beg the office by showing the official email I had received to confirm that I was given that certificate, but it was no use. I then called the association that issued my certificate but I was placed on a waiting list. Help was slow to arrive and no amount of begging could change their firm decision. I was devastated as all the preparation I did and the time I spent that day all went down the drain.
That feeling of devastation lingered for days. I was left hanging, and I knew not having the license would remove my qualification. It was hard to think how missing that single document had completely shut down my chances of practicing my profession. It also meant that the next time I sign a report, I couldn’t attached those initials to my name anymore. And whenever I introduce myself, I could no longer say that I am a registered professional.
All these brought about a strange moment of self-evaluation: If I didn’t have the title, then what am I? Who am I? I had built so much of my identity on a title that I ended up losing after just a few years. It was foolish of me to have let that title define who I was.
In my brokenness, I realised that what truly matters is having a role that no one can strip off of you—an identity that does not depend on issued certifications or attended seminars, and does not come with an expiration date.
An identity that doesn’t expire
John 1:12 says, “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” This verse showed me an identity that does not come with a validity period. Imagine if the Bible gave us instructions similar to how we earn our licenses. If that were the case, we could easily miss requirements because of our wrongdoings and lose our title. However, God is gracious that despite our shortcomings, He has given us the right to be His children! And it’s not something that comes in a card that could be misplaced or stolen. It is in us, forever!
It amazes me how God used that experience to awaken my identity. After many days passed, I received an email stating that my certificate was redelivered to the office, and in turn, I was able to renew my license. Still, that experience of having been rejected remains a profound lesson and moment of awakening.
Even as I’ve enjoyed the title that has come with my profession, I know that above that is what no man or office can ever take away—an identity in Jesus. I know I can always count on that, and I hope you will as well.