Defining moments

I knew from my knee jerk reaction to the email that my struggle wasn't over.  That from time to time I would experience setbacks in my quest for wholeness and soul health.

I clung to the hope that, at the very least, some progress had been made.

It was a sweet email.  Sent for the pure reason of encouragement.

The email wasn't the problem.

My acceptance of it was.

This dear friend, in thanking me for being a listening ear said "You are one of the kindest people I know.  I am so glad we are friends".

How could that do anything but encourage me?

Because deep in my soul the response came - "She doesn't really know me.  If she did, she wouldn't feel that way"

Because of a defining moment from many years ago.

A moment that I let define me as "unacceptable".  The term they used was "wrong chemistry".  They assured me they were "speaking the truth in love", of course, but I assure you that, while the truth part may be debatable, there was not one smidgen of love that came through that day.

I must be candid and share that I've never had a problem with confidence.  Graced with a completely loving family, I grew into adulthood secure and happy.  I was able to navigate the letdowns and disappointments and, even failures, that a normal life experiences.  Not that things were always easy nor that I was always joyful, but overall, I was characterized by others and my own estimation as happy, secure, and confident.

Until then.

I don't really know how this particular rejection undid me.  But it did.  And it re-defined me.  The searing hot brand of their words and actions left their imprint deep into my soul.

It was a defining moment, all right.

I spiraled down into a place where the only definition of myself I could read was theirs.  And since that's all I could read, that's what I believed.

Since that's what I believed, I adjusted my actions accordingly.  Don't let anyone get close enough to see my unacceptability.  My "wrong chemistry".

It was lonely, being at arm's length from people.  But at least it felt safe.

I stayed in that place for a long time.  I don't know what triggered my break from there but I do know I eventually realized that I was not defined by that moment.

That was only a distracting moment.  I should not have let it become a defining moment.  Rather it should instead have been a directing moment.

I learned (and am still learning to apply the truth...) that life is made of moments.  Moments that distract us from the path we are on.  Those can be either successes or failures. Moments of success distract us into thinking we are always going to succeed.  Even that we deserve to.  Moments of failure can distract us into thinking that we are always going to fail.  And that we deserve to.

When moments happen, we must recognize them as just that.  Moments.  Distracting moments. 

The problem with moments is that they tend to want to linger longer....into defining us.  Defining moments that deceive us with their masquerades of success or of failure.  The imposters of acceptance or of rejection.  The shams of superiority or of deficiency.

Moments don't define us.

Instead, they should direct us.

When I was distracted by the assault of that rejection, I shouldn't have let it define me.  Rather, I should have let it direct me into seeking truth. 

What is it that truly defines me?  If neither the moments of pain nor of triumph, what does?

I am defined by who loves me and whom I love.

Certainly my family.  And my friends. 

But even those have potential for distracting moments.  That beg to be defining moments.

Rather, I am defined exclusively by Christ's love for me.  Period.  The only moment that has the power to define me is the moment I became His.

All other moments are just distractions.  No matter if they seem good or bad.  They do not define me.  They just direct me into His arms.  To give praise or receive comfort.  To celebrate or to learn.  To gain wisdom or forgiveness.  Directly.