These past few days have brought back many great memories. On Friday, I met up with two “old” friends after our quarterly tradition of “lunching” lapsed for more than a year. We joked, we laughed, we shared our stories and lots of memories. Yesterday, I attended the ordination of 15 new deacons for our diocese. I met up with my formation classmates there, some of whom I haven’t seen for several years. We joked, we laughed, we shared our stories and lots of memories. By the end of the day, it was clear to me that these people and the memories we share are so much more than just part of my history. They have shaped who I am – for good.
There’s a saying in the world of moral philosophy that “we do what we are, and we are what we do.” Say that ten times fast! This somewhat circular adage means that our nature (who we are) drives our actions, while our actions (what we do) form our nature. The same can be said of the people and events of our lives. Good, bad or indifferent, the people and events in our lives form us; they shape us; they contribute to who we are and what we do. As Elphaba and Glinda sing in Wicked:
People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.
Every person, every experience changes us one way or another, and they always bring an opportunity for growth. The question, then, is whether our interactions and experiences will change us for the better, or just for good. God offers a change for the better in every moment of our lives. We need to be open to it; we need to seize every chance meeting, every challenge we face, find the good that can come out of it and act on it. The people and events of our lives will change us. How they change us is up to us.
I’ve been blessed with a great life filled with wonderful friends and family. I’ve had my share of challenges, but through God’s grace, I’ve experienced so much of the good he has offered through them. These past few days reminded me of how much the people and events of my life have shaped who I am today. And I thank God that, for the most part, they have changed me for the better – for good.