Why Bother With Definitions?
Recently I read an article by Jeff Minick, a new favorite author of mine who writes for The Epoch Times, a new favorite newspaper I subscribe to. His article, ‘I’m Doing It’: Resilience and Faith in Our Daily Battles, told the story of a woman who contracted Lyme disease and as a result, everything about her life changed. Though the article focused on resilience, the quality that gets people through difficult times, my takeaway was; how do I define myself? When health fails, as it did for the woman who contracted Lyme disease, and I can no longer do what I’ve always done, does my definition of me remain the same?
Dictionaries and Definitions
I love dictionaries. Along with the pronunciation, part of speech, and the origin of the word, they give words their precise meaning. But, when I look for my name in a dictionary, I am not there. Mother Teresa, an Albanian nun, Teresa of Avila, a mystic writer, and Teresa of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun are listed, but not Terese Luikens. How then, am I defined and where do I find a definition for who I am?
Eva, the woman whose life was changed by Lyme disease, left the corporate world in order to focus on treatments to combat her illness. She was no longer a prestigious employee in a Fortune 100 Company. So was she still Eva? When the circumstances of our lives change and we can no longer attach our name to what we do, who are we?
For many years, I coordinated a community women’s Bible study. I knew a lot of women and a lot of women knew me. I was flattered whenever I was out in public and someone approached me and acknowledged who I was. But then there came a time when I knew I had to step away from that position of leadership and for a while, I didn’t quite know who I was. If I wasn’t a Bible study teacher and coordinator, then who was I?
I used to be a competitive triathlete, but I no longer compete. Though I have activities that I am zealous about; bike riding, swimming, running and yoga, who do I become when my body can no longer do any of those things?
Are we who we are because of what we do? In order to give ourselves any kind of definition, I think we have to reach a little deeper for something more than just the things we are capable of doing. I believe our identity is given to us by the One who created us in the first place.
The Bible is my all time favorite book. From it I gain wisdom, hope and a little insight into who I am and who created me. Thankfully, it is not a book of dos and don’ts. Instead, like a dictionary, it tells me who I am; an eternal being, loved and accepted by an Eternal Being no matter what I can or cannot do. It is comforting to know that I will always be one who is loved by the One who loves me perfectly both now, and forever. It is a simple definition of who I am, but sometimes it is hard to remember that one important fact about my identity.
Why bother with definitions? It is worth it to know that it is a Who that defines us, not a what. When changes take place, as they will, remembering that the One who gives us our identity remains the same, both now and forever.