How are you defined?

Life in the Bible Belt provides interesting opportunities for reflection at virtually every turn. The creative, witty and sometimes funny church signs with their enchanting messages call like the Sirens to prospective parishioners and passersby. One of the signs I passed yesterday had the message: “Be generous” and “It defines you” in rotating red LED lights. The sign triggered a few thoughts throughout the day, particularly the question: “How are you defined?”

You are defined by a multitude of factors. Your sex, race, color, creed define you as well as your decisions, words and actions, among many other things. Sometimes those things that define you are misleading. I’ve known a number of short-statured people, for instance, who have a large presence larger than the biggest person in the room. I’ve known simple people who have offered profound lessons to peers who would be defined as being more eloquent, intelligent or quick-witted. There is wisdom in learning not to judge by appearances.

Some people reinvent themselves for the better every so often. Madonna, Sting and Cher are outstanding examples of this and fortunately for those who enjoy their stage presence and musicality, they have managed to stay current against all odds. Others remain remarkably the same over time. They are what they are and “ain’t nothin’ gonna change that.” Which describes you more accurately?

Some redefine themselves when the pressure comes on, revealing what lies beneath the civil, cheery and magnanimous veneer presented during fair weather. I’ve had friends who stayed remarkably consistent during good times and bad and others who were naught but fair-weather friends, turning sour when the cold and howling winds of misfortune began to blow. It is largely for this reason that I seek not to pigeon-hole people, to define them based on appearances or to judge them in any other fashion.

If you watch people over time, in both the peaks and the valleys of life, you’ll get a good idea of what lies close to the center. Knowing this you can invest your trust wisely, all the while maintaining a radiant stance of love and appreciation for whatever goodness and blessing might be coming through each one at any given point in time.

If you center your concern on the expression of the highest and finest of which you are capable in any given moment, you needn’t be concerned about how you are defined…by yourself or by anyone. If you give your best in all that you do, you needn’t rely on the approbation of another to keep moving forward.

How you are defined becomes a bigger deal when you are giving anything less than that which you are capable of giving. If you are obsessed with how you look to others, how you are being received, whether or not you are being accepted, you are likely not doing all that you can to simply be you. If this is the case, relax for a moment. Realize that you are indeed a valuable, interesting and meaningful person and that the quality of your expression matters in ways that you could never imagine.

Be yourself and you will defy definition!

6 thoughts on “How are you defined?

  1. Colin

    There are many ways that we define ourselves each day. I think that as we keep pushing to give the best that we can, our idea of who we are can change. I know that I don’t define myself today the same as I did last year. I have done many things since that time, and I have changed, hopefully for the better. Part of the way I know that is because II can handle more than I could in the past – a mark of progress. Here’s to changing the way we define ourselves, for the better.

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  2. Ed Barnes, Sr

    Well said! :

    “If you center your concern on the expression of the highest and finest of which you are capable in any given moment, you needn’t be concerned about how you are defined…by yourself or by anyone. If you give your best in all that you do, you needn’t rely on the approbation of another to keep moving forward.”

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  3. Joshua

    Now that answered a multitude of questions in a remarkably simple fashion. Thanks for this quiet reminder, “Judge not, that ye be not Judged”,
    Your words this morning are comforting, and it’s a beautiful sunny day out there, worthy of the finest!

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  4. Brad

    a friend of mine told me once that “we are a product of the company with which we keep”. at an early age i had to really think about that one…what the heck was he talking about?…but later in life i see his point – our influences in life play a major role in shaping who we become. so the lesson, watch who you hang with and what you let into your heart and mind…these things have a great influence on who we become.
    thanks for the reminder – “the quality of your expression matters in ways that you could never imagine”…my children and so many others deserve my best!

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