I have been trying to pay closer attention to the questions that resonate with me. Recently, I read what defines you? and that question keeps coming back to me.
What does define me? Is it my faith? My values and beliefs? The actions that spring from my faith, values and beliefs?
I was recently nominated for the Athena Award, and I was deeply honored. The Award is for a woman who supports other women in their professional lives.
I thought about the person who nominated me and what she saw in me that was worthy of the nomination.
At the Award luncheon, I chatted with the woman sitting next to me. She had heard me speak at another event and asked about my life and the challenges I have faced.
I found myself telling her about my going-away party when I left Pennsylvania ten years ago, and how people approached me throughout the evening and thanked me for something I had done for them. Many times, I could not even recall the incident they referred to, and I became aware as the night went on how honored I felt to have been asked for help, honored to be entrusted with someone’s struggle, honored to walk a part of someone’s journey.
As I recalled that party, I was filled with gratitude for the people who have touched my life, and I realized that gratitude is one of the things that defines me.
I didn’t win the Athena Award, but being nominated was a wonderful acknowledgement of how I have lived my life. And then recalling my Pennsylvania going-away party and the things people said to me was icing on the cake.
I think that another thing that defines me is that I have overcome the challenges of my younger life and remain open to helping others overcome their challenges.
Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and her new grandbaby. My friend commented on how I was with the baby, and I admit I can be very silly when I am around children. I want them to know that I delight in them, in their smiles and laughs, and that I desire their happiness. Joy is something that defines me. I delight in babies, nature, beauty, art, food—really all of creation. I believe we were created to live joyfully—even when life is difficult.
I remember when my friend Jim had brain cancer, we laughed about something every day—and we were grateful for every day.
Another thing that defines me is that I try to live my life with nothing to fear, nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This intention is a main part of my spiritual life, a key to living in dependence on God. I set this intention more than thirty years ago, and it is a goal that continues to challenge me and help me move toward greater freedom. Living this way leads to letting go and living a life of transparency.
What defines you?