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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
The Hardest ThingPosted Monday, September 28, 2009, at 10:44 AM
You're asked by a group of college students to come and talk to them.
The topic is "what matters most to you and why."
I recently found myself in this actual situation. The group is a weekly forum where pizza is served and speakers talk. The program lasts for just an hour or an entire hour, depending upon how you look at it. I've known several who have addressed this group before and I've made fun of them as they told me how difficult they found the experience.
Recently it was my turn.
It was the hardest thing I've done in two years!
Okay, first let's get rid of the stereotypes. One of the hats I wear is that of a professional clergy person. I'm supposed to say God, the Bible, the American flag, and apple pie.
Oh, and fried chicken!
None of those were items on which I spoke.
Instead, I started looking at lists of my own life. I believe that I have become the person I am in large part due to the experiences I've had and my response to those experiences. Most times I have no control over the experiences that come my way.
However, I have great power over how I respond to these experiences, and over time my responses determine a pattern of how I view life. You might say the "lens" of how I "see" myself is based upon the choices I've made.
I developed a list of the seven experiences that have impacted me the most and truths I've learned from each. I'm very aware that my list will continue to change year by year and hour by hour. I'm also aware that the experiences I listed for that group of students might not be the list I would share with a different group; on second thought, it probably is the same list, because I'm not as compartmentalized with my life as I used to be.
Some of those experiences were very positive ones while others were very sad and depressing. What I learned about myself is that the truths I've learned through each experience have become more important to me than the experience itself.
One that I uplifted is "never accept the limitations others try to impose." Another is "there is purpose in my life even if I don't currently understand."
Are you ready to spend some hours in deep reflection? You're asked by a group of college students to come and talk to them. The topic is "what matters most to you and why." How would you approach speaking about such a subject? How much would you reveal about your own life?
How vulnerable are you willing to become in front of people you barely know? How willing are you to have them repeat what you say but from their own perspectives, thus creating your public image without your control? Would you share seven experiences and the truths you've learned from each? Would you list seven people who have invited you to change in becoming who you are today? Would you list important public moments that changed how others identify you?
Waiting for me to reveal the experiences I shared with the students?
Sorry, you'll have to invite me to speak at your gathering!
P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.