KEY MOMENTS THAT DEFINE YOUR LIFE
© 2016, Vicki Hinze
Life-defining moments. We all have them. Yet when we think of them in abstract terms, we think they’re these huge events. But the keys are often not in huge events. They’re in small, seemingly insignificant events that truly define to us who we are and who we choose to be.
As you’d expect, these defining moments don’t all happen at once, but over the course of our lives, and all through our lives we’re presented with opportunities to change our minds. That’s a good thing, because sometimes we take wrong turns, or as my darling daughter would put it, “We don’t make wise choices.” So we’re given chances to redefine ourselves.
Let me share a few examples.
In second grade, I had a buffalo head nickel and a comic book that said it was worth a lot more than a nickel. We also had a jar on the window ledge in our classroom that was for donations. I had to choose. Do I keep the nickel for myself or put it in the jar to help others?
That doesn’t seem like a monumental choice, does it? A little thing for a little girl. But it was a life-defining moment. I could put my wants/needs first or try to help others. I knew it. Something inside me told me this was a big decision. I chose the jar. And it became a theme in my life. Oh, I didn’t define it as one then. But it did influence my focus and future decisions until as an adult it became a conscious way of life.
I chose the jar. And that put me on a path that had me adopting “I Serve” as a personal motto. When I can, I help others.
At about twenty, I was struggling. Money was tight, everything was a struggle. I went into a store and made a small purchase. The clerk made a mistake and gave me $20 too much change. That was a lot of money then. A week’s worth of groceries. Gas for the car for a month. I was broke and times were hard and I had to choose: keep it or tell the clerk she’d made a mistake. In that position, it was a mental war and the temptation to do the wrong thing was powerful—a life-defining moment.
That money would have made my life a lot easier, but my conscience would have hammered me. What kind of person did I want to be? I knew I was deciding that, standing at the drugstore checkout counter. I chose to be honest. I gave the money back to her. Life-defining.
Later still, I was grown; a wife and a mother. I went grocery shopping and put a book in the top part of the cart so it wouldn’t be wet by the cold stuff. My handbag was atop it. I checked out, paid for the groceries and went to my car. When I unloaded the cart and lifted my purse, I saw the book was there. I hadn’t paid for it. I checked the receipt to be sure, but sure enough, it wasn’t on it. Yet another life-defining moment. Did I get in the car or go back into the store and pay for the book?
I went back and paid for the book. I still wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to feel badly every time I walked into that store, and if I hadn’t, I would have.
Those are three little examples but they’re significant because they’re not huge events and they’re not major incidents. In the grand scheme of things, they’re little things. A nickel, twenty dollars, a paperback novel aren’t exactly fortune making or breaking. But they are character-making or breaking things.
In each case, I was totally aware that I had to choose. I had to decide how I would define my life. And I knew that I alone was responsible for the decisions I made.
We all have life-defining moments. Many of them. I didn’t always make the right choices. But I have always been given more opportunities to change my mind and make wiser choices. We all are.
My point? We choose. We might have endured horrific things, wicked events in our lives where we have every reason—some would say every justification for being adults lacking character. But the truth is we become adults. As adults, we experience life-defining moments where no matter what we’ve endured or suffered or experienced, we decide. We innately know our options and we choose.
Our decisions define our lives. We are the people we choose to be in the ways that most matter. A lesson from my daughter: choose wisely. You will live with the choices you make.
The choices you make define your character. And your character defines how you feel about yourself. That image of you is projected in hundreds of ways to others.
So today, you have homework. What have been your life-defining moments? Who have you chosen to be?
And, yes, you may consider this an opportunity to revisit those choices and make wiser ones.
That, my dear friends, is the purpose of this post.
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: The Marked Star and In Case of Emergency: What You Need to Know When I Can’t Tell You (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!