Next to my desk is a picture of Deb that I love. She is celebrating life. Her face is raised to the sun, her arms outstretched, receiving the sheer delight of being alive. Next to the picture she posted this statement: "Defining oneself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of life's most difficult challenges."
I have been thinking about this lately. I have been feeling things that I don't like. I have allowed the actions of others control my feelings and my thoughts. I have sometimes lost sleep. Sometimes the actions of others become so powerful inside my mind that I am unable to be what I want to be. Defining oneself is indeed one of life's most difficult challenges.
As I have wrestled with these things, I remember years of leading congregations. When there are several hundred people in a community there are multiple occasions when people's actions would plant themselves right in the middle of my consciousness. I had to continue to work and do ministry while my feelings about their actions kept distracting me. I remember working consciously to remember that I am in charge of myself. I did not want others to define me. I did not want other's actions to determine my action. I want to act out of my own values, not the values of others.
So, as I took my thoughts and my feelings for a hike today, I decided that I will take control of my own response to what is happening around me. I am impacted by what others do and say, and I have feelings of anger and pain. But, I will work to treat others as I want to be treated. That way I can live with myself. I will be who I decide I want to be.