This past Friday I had the honor and the pleasure of attending an induction ceremony and tea for a girls organization that I had the privilege to help start as well as advise when I was a teacher at my previous school. The organization, P.I.N.K. (Positive Influence Nurtures Knowledge), was originally created by a wise and beautiful woman at a local elementary school, and one of her old members begged my friend to start a chapter at our middle school a few years ago. I heard about the idea and jumped right on board, and the rest is history. Being an adviser for P.I.N.K. was one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my adult life (kind of like parenting but to 30-40 young ladies at one time).
This year we were inducting 20 new members, and I was so excited to be on the other side of the table, not the one putting everything together, but as a speaker on a panel coming to encourage and impart wisdom to the new and old members. I didn’t plan a speech or anything of that sort because I knew that once the conversations at these events start, they just keep rolling seamlessly.
We had gotten to our Q&A session of the tea when one of the young ladies, after hearing stories of the challenges and hard times that we had all overcome, asked a very thought provoking question. She asked “In order to grow in life will there have to be more bad times than good?” Apparently in conveying our stories, we had given her the impression that in order to it make to where we were as guest panelists and successful women, that life would have to be more hard than easy, more bad than good. Two other presenters spoke up before I could, and because we were running short on time, I didn’t have the chance to respond. But here is what I wanted her to know. Maybe she’ll get the chance to read this some day.
No, there will not be more hard times than easy and more bad than good. It’s really all about your perspective of and approach to life each and every day. When I look back over my life, I can definitely point out more happy than sad days, more laughter and smiles than tears, more peaceful moments than those spent in pain.
The bad days or hard times cannot be avoided and yes, they do help us to grow. It’s all in our responses to these moments that can make all the difference in our lives.
We can grow from “good” moments as well. For example, if something that you’ve tried to do turns out positively, you’ll repeat the process to continue to get good results. You will learn through that process. You will grow.
However, the moments that seem to have the biggest impacts are those hard times or what I will call the defining moments of our lives. I believe that the reason most of us point these moments out when giving wisdom to others, the reason why they stick out in our minds the most, is because they are the moments that change us the most, the moments that truly make us who God created us to be.
These defining moments stick out because we are usually in a make or break situation where the decision we make or the lesson we learn will have a lasting impact on our lives.
They can be the beginning of a chapter of our lives that will lead us to success or even the ending to one that will take us away from negative things such as a toxic relationship.
The reason we are so eager to share these stories is because we don’t want you to be blindsided by them. If we came in and told you that life would be all unicorns and rainbows, you’d be mad at us when it didn’t turn out that way.
Defining moments often come as a surprise. They interrupt your normal life. They may even knock you off your feet. But I dare you to do this. I dare you to welcome these moments and use them for the learning experiences that they are meant to be. Let them be temporary interruptions and not how your story ends. That way you can add words such as courageous, strong, bold, wise, indomitable to your list of words you use to describe yourself.
We want you to be prepared and understand and remember that this too shall pass. That you will come out on the other side of this stronger than you’d ever thought you would be and that one day, you will be standing in front of a room of young ladies, or on the phone with one, or holding your own daughter’s hand as you tell your story of overcoming adversity, so that she will understand that the strong, beautiful, positive, successful woman that she knows wasn’t created overnight.
But she also wasn’t defeated by the storms of life. If anything, she always found a way to come out on top. That is our humble prayer for you and why we are here today. So that you may always come out on top.