When I was very young my parents defined me. I was who they said I was. In school I became who other people thought I was, but yet I was still what my parents said I was. Life became a bit more confusing. In high school I thought I was what my parents wanted me to be, but I felt I needed to be what I wanted me to be, and still others thought I was something else. Life was a lot more confusing.
Some things in life take time to settle, like a juice that separates over time with the clear liquid on top and the pulp at the bottom. It doesn’t happen quickly, but it does happen, if you are patient. Actually, it happens even if you aren’t patient, but there isn’t any way to speed up the process. Some things just simply take time.
Over the last 50 plus years I have had time to think, time to change, time to decide, and time to act for myself. I used to be defined by my parents. To a large degree I hope I never fully lose that definition. My parents are good people who love me and want the best for me. I am blessed to have a mother who thinks I am a pretty alright person. I would never want to let her down. In that same amount of time I have learned to let go of other people’s opinions of me. I am one of those people that other people generally don’t know what to do with anyway. I don’t think like others, or follow the crowd like others. You might say I do my own thing. I never really thought about how my life was being defined.
Imagine my surprise then, when I was reading a training book for missionaries put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I read this title, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ.” No, that is not the surprising part. What surprised me was that I felt compelled at that moment to pencil into the end of that line the words, “Defines Me.” What a revelation it was to me to realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ defines me. I had to do some thinking about that.
This is what I have concluded. My values reflect the teachings of Christ. My love for people reflects my understanding of the love my Savior has for me. And my virtues, such as they are, come from the examples of the prophets, and the stories from the scriptures. My valuation of my wife and our marriage is a direct result of my commitment to the covenant of eternal marriage we made in the Lord’s House, His temple. There isn’t any part of my life that I like, that I value, that I trust, that isn’t a direct result of Christ’s gospel or good news.
I have my failings, and my shortcomings. Please don’t ask for the list from my wife. I’m almost half afraid she might oblige you. But even in my weakness I can see the Lord’s guiding hand in helping me turn my weaknesses into strengths as I submit to his teachings. We all have areas in which we fall short of where we would like to be. We all have areas in which we excel. The question I think I need to ask myself more often is this: “Today, is my life being defined by me, by someone else, or by the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Whose definition will make me happier?” I think I now know the answer. What defines you?
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