Recently I saw something on Facebook that got me thinking.
And no, it wasn’t a series of pictures of celebrities at the beach or animals doing silly things or anything else like that. Although I have to admit, most of my Facebook time is spent looking at that kind of stuff.
A friend was asked by someone she didn’t know well to quickly summarize who she is. She recalled a moment in her life that defined who she is today, a moment that started the course of shaping her into the person she became. I was blown away by her quick thinking, and found it admirable that she could pinpoint an exact moment that this happened. I immediately reflected upon my own nebulous past. It seemed important, a thing that we all should be able to do.
Also, because I hold the record for world’s #1 Navel-Gazer, I never miss an opportunity to reflect and wonder about myself in any capacity.
The idea rolled around in my head for a few days and I came up with nothing. What drives me? Furthermore, when did this drive, this important thing, become my motivation, my inspiration to get out of bed in the morning?
I so badly wanted that moment to be something spiritual, something to do with God and Jesus and being a Christian. I admire people who say “I became a Christian at five years old” and “I don’t ever remember not knowing Jesus.” Loving Jesus and working on my relationship with God has been a truly remarkable time in my life, but it is relatively recent. I wish I had spent less time during my life resisting Jesus and more time loving him. It seems nicer, somehow.
But a nice, neat, pure and holy turning point just isn’t my thing. Then it dawned on me. My moment.
My defining moment came when I was 17 and I was moping around, a favorite pastime back then. My moodiness and angst-filled tirades had reached their limit in my mother, who one day interrupted my pity-party-of-one to give me the business about growing up and getting over myself, that I wasn’t the only person in the world who felt the feelings I felt. Before she slammed the door to my room she advised me to get out there and get a job, for goodness’ sakes.
Her words stung. Realization dawned on me that I was a brat, first and foremost, but also that I am not alone in the world. Other people felt like I did? Who are they? Where are they? How can I find them? Why didn’t any of my friends tell me? Was it my fault?
I wasn’t open. I told white lies and exaggerated to get attention. I had walls, held people at arms’ length. Shyness was a favorite excuse. I judged others, was stuck up. The list of my flaws was long and was revealed to me over the years.
Relating to others became my motivation. I needed to be able to share and be shared with. The realization that my personality thus far was what kept me from being close to others helped me to battle that list of character flaws one, two, three at a time. I failed miserably and was humbled again and again. I studied psychology to understand how we relate, entered a committed relationship to fully relate to another person and had children both to teach and to learn from. I made friendships by being honest, by letting down my guard and showing people my ugly face. I observed that we are all similar; there’s no need to put on an act for anyone. I learned that if I feel terrible, odds are that someone else is too, and we can help each other through it.
Relating to others is why I look forward to difficult conversations with my kids, why my friends and I laugh so hard and so long through our tears, and why I drive my husband crazy by forcing him to think about things he doesn’t want to think about. It’s why I’ve had an internal dialogue with myself all these years, and why I started writing. It was revealed as my motivation in that one moment.
The bonus is that I truly believe that relating to others is my purpose, and that God, in his purity and holiness, designed me this way. He is present in every thought and action I’ve had, and he led me here. Guess what? He did that for you, too. Do you know when it happened?
An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26 (NLT)
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)