OK, here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’ve got my background and why I feel a need to define myself, and you’ve got all the circumstances I don’t want to define me. But lately God has been almost literally bopping me on the head with a bat, insisting that it’s time to think and pray and do something to redefine myself and set my course for the rest of my life.
The first time was my first visit ever to a Chronic Pain Support Group. Better late than never, right? Everyone had known each other for years (or so it seemed). There were two other newbies besides me, and we all introduced ourselves and were greeted warmly before the guest speaker started. Afterwards everyone stayed and talked for a while, and it quickly became clear that this wasn’t a misery loves company group of people. One woman identified herself as “the political one”, and I could 100% see myself spending time with her, educating the public, making calls, and sending emails about laws that need to be passed to protect hard-working people from some of the experiences I suffered. Another woman had suffered with Fibromyalgia for decades before being diagnosed, and now nearly 50% of her extended family has been diagnosed. Her passion is early detection of the disease, and identification of those at risk. This is a powerful, positive group of people who have much loftier health goals than just “making it through each day”, which has been my only goal for a really long time.
Then I attended my usual Bariatric Surgery Support Group. (I had a gastric sleeve last August, hoping weight loss would help my low back pain – no luck so far). Our official topic for the day was Relationships, but we ended up talking about the frustration of how our culture defines and discriminates overweight people, and that it often continues even after the weight is lost. Then what should pop out of my mouth? “Yes, our culture has some huge flaws. But the place to start making changes is how we define ourselves. How did we introduce ourselves today? By telling our first names, what surgery we’d had, and how many pounds we’d lost. We have to see ourselves as more than numbers on a scale or the size on a tag before we can expect anyone else to do so!” Yep, my filter is apparently permanently set in the Off position.
Then I went to see Stephen King speak (totally worth the incredible pain that night and the two days of bedrest afterwards!!) and the first thing he said was that he was actually three different people: the guy who took out the trash and picked up the dog poop, the guy who wrote all this crazy stuff and never knew how his books were going to end ahead of time, and the person brave enough to stand in front of a crowd of 2,400 people and talk.
The final straw was finishing a book by Lisa Wingate – part of the Moses Lake series. Yes, it’s romance, not literary fiction, but the clear theme of the book was defining oneself. So that’s what I’m up to now. I’m gathering all these scattered aspects of myself and deciding who I’m going to be for the rest of my life. And it’s kind of exciting! How about you? How do you define yourself and how has that changed over your lifetime? Does your definition need a closer inspection?