Recently, I wrote a post that was very well received by my regular readers and was reposted by two people. It was not as well written as I would have liked it to be, but it had heart. Many people related to the post, and two people told me that it touched their hearts and made them cry. One person, however, slapped my hands and told me that I was trying to "define" someone.
I was not offended by the criticism. In fact, one of the purposes of this blog is to generate feedback on my writing so that I become a better writer. I would never want to write anything hurtful, or that could be interpreted by someone as hurtful. I'm not naive enough to think that everyone is going to like what I write, either. The discussion did, however, make me think quite a bit about what "defines" people. Is it possible that something I write could later have a negative impact on how another person sees himself or herself? So how are we "defined" as people?
In discussing this with several people (I love social media), I learned that there seems to be a lot of feelings out there about what that really means. I've heard that religion defines who we are as people. I've heard that the decisions we make between good and bad define us. Someone told me that what we do in the present, regardless of our past, or our thought patterns, is what defines us. All of those are good answers. I would add to that, imagination, determination, and spunk. I believe that we are born with personality and character. I've seen that in my children. Maybe how we use that personality and character in this life defines us.
Every person who has ever been, is now, or who will live on this earth in the future has a certain amount of adversity to deal with. I think it is how we deal with that adversity that defines us. We need to use our character, talents, imagination, determination, spunk, religion, and a variety of other things to do what is right. As I learned in my social media discussion, we also need to be cognizant of our thought process. While we need to control our thoughts, we also need to understand that there is a repentance process if we mess things up a bit. What we do today doesn't have to be based on the mistakes we made yesterday. We need to accept who we are at this moment in time, always striving to be better. We accomplish nothing by living in the past, or dwelling on our mistakes or our circumstances.
"Our character has been forged in the furnace of adversity. We know what pain feels like. We cannot change the past. However, we can choose to use these reference points as a rich resource to assist us in better understanding and connecting with people. When we use our life experiences in the service of others, we will finally find purpose in our suffering, joy in our journey, and much needed healing in our souls." — Dave Blanchard — (Thanks Sheila Du Bois for sharing this quote on Google+.) Thanks also to those who shared thoughts and ideas with me on Google+.