We all have them.
It’s during those defining moments in life when we realize who we really are. Most of us have this concept of who we are in our heads, and sometimes we are spot on, but other times… not so much. You can’t deny a defining moment. In that moment you are faced with the truth. You either like the definition, or you don’t.
One of my first defining moments came in sixth grade. Middle school. Who would really go back and do middle school again if they could? I wouldn’t. It’s all about puberty, braces, bad hair, and social weirdness.
Middle school is when you begin dressing out for P.E class.
I cannot think of a worse time for a girl to start that. You are thrown into a big open locker room with fifty other girls, all in varying stages of development, and told to change clothes. There’s nowhere to hide, no room for modesty. Some girls, like me, were sporting training bras, and others looked like they could model for Victoria’s Secret. It was always the worst thirty seconds of my day. Yes, I learned to change my clothes super quickly.
I remember we were each assigned a locker to store our P.E. clothes. Some of the girls put locks on their lockers, and some didn’t. I was one who didn’t. I wasn’t really great at remembering locker combinations. I still have the occasional nightmare where I’m standing in front of my locker unable to open it. But not choosing to put a lock on my P.E. locker is a decision I would regret.
I grew up at the tail end of the time kids were being bussed from inner city schools to attend schools like mine that could offer them a quality education.
I understand the premise, but it stunk both for the kids who were bussed in, and the kids who already attended the school. None of us knew how to respond to each other.
I remember my first encounter with one of the newly bussed in students. I met her in the P.E. locker room. She was probably the biggest girl I had ever seen. She completely scared me to death. She looked tough and mean, and she had taken my things from out of my P.E. locker, and put her things in. I found my P.E. clothes in a pile on the floor.
Without saying anything, I picked up my clothes, and retreated to the far end of the locker room to change. I left my stuff on a bench since my locker had been taken over. My friends soon began to notice I wasn’t using my locker and why. They encouraged me to tell the girl she was using my locker, and that I wanted it back. Sure. It wasn’t their bones this girl was going to break!
Finally, after much prodding, I did it.
I marched right up to her as she was putting her things in my locker, and said to the back of her waist, “Um… That’s my locker.” She turned slowly around looking for the idiot who had spoken to her. Looking down at me, she put her hands on her hips, cocked her head to the side, and said, “So.” Then she turned back around, and finished dressing for P.E.
Instead of pushing the point and insisting on getting my locker returned to me, I slinked back to my corner of the room, and realized something about myself. I was a weenie. I didn’t even have the courage to say something to the gym teacher about my locker thief. I was afraid of her, too.
The Sasquatch who took my locker spent the next several P.E. classes targeting me during games of war ball, a game that has since been outlawed for its tendency to promote violence. War ball is dodge ball on steroids. Luckily, I was a small target, and pretty quick on my feet.
Then, one day, without explanation she moved her stuff out of my locker. I still don’t know why. It wasn’t because I did anything about it. I was a weenie, remember?
I didn’t like that defining moment.
I didn’t want “weenie” to be a part of my definition, and yet it was, and it continued to be for a long time. But I’ve learned something else about defining moments. They come to show you both where you are doing well, and where you need to make changes.
I didn’t like my weenie tendency, but God had put it there. The thing is, He never intended for it to come across as weenie-ness. He had intended for it to be meekness. I have since learned that God’s desire is for me to humble myself, and rely on His strength to meet my needs.
Meekness provides unexpected strength under pressure.
It provides gentleness and humbleness in dealing with people in all situations, but especially in the things of God. When I lean on my own strength, meekness quickly reverts to weenie-ness. But when I live by faith and through the strength God provides me, I am able to respond in meekness.
Meekness isn’t on many people’s top ten list of character traits. We often think of meek folks as weak folks, but scripture tells us differently. And best of all, the Bible does say that the meek shall inherit the earth, lockers and all!
Defining moments teach us truth about ourselves. If the definition is not what we wanted, there’s still a way out. With God’s leading, we can change our definitions. We can become God’s very own definition of who we are supposed to be.
We all have them.