Sunday, January 8, 2017

This Does Not Define You

Have you seen Moana?  If you haven't yet, I highly recommend it.  Catchy songs, memorable characters, and a heart-warming story.  Fun for the whole family.

My favorite part of the movie is at the end, when Moana realizes that Te Ka, the lava monster they have been fighting, is actually Te Fiti, the goddess whose heart had been stolen and which they were trying to return to her.  In the beautiful climax moment, Moana slowly and bravely approaches the enraged Te Ka and sings,

They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are

In essence, Moana is telling Te Fiti that her tragedy does not define her.  The monster she turned into in order to compensate for the grief and anger she felt at her loss was not truly who she was.  Te Fiti only needed to remember who she was in order to return to her true goddess form.

Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of the death of a close friend.  His death was sudden and tragic and just plain heartbreaking.  At the time, and in the months following it, I very much felt that this incident would define me for the rest of my life, that I would never be able to overcome the trauma of his passing.  And while I do carry the memory of that loss with me, I have since learned that with time and faith, wounds heal, scars fade, and, more importantly, my loss does not define who I am as an individual.

Over the past few days I have been thinking not only of this tragedy, but also of other tragedies that have been occurring in the lives of acquaintances and loved ones.  I don't pretend to know how it feels to lose a child or a parent, or suffer a miscarriage, or any number of trials that can occur in one's life, but I do know that our lives are not defined by what we have lost or the pain we have felt.  Our identity is not determined by tragedy or trauma.

Whether it's a job title or career path, your body after having had a baby, a significant relationship, the physical ability to perform a task due to injury or illness, the enjoyment of a hobby or interest or talent, or, yes, the passing of a friend or child or sibling or parent - whatever it is that is stolen from you for a period of time (or even for this lifetime) - this does not define who you are.

Is there a mourning period for your loss?  Of course.  Does it feel like the pain and sadness will never end?  Oh my goodness, yes.  But there truly is a light, however dim, at the end of that dark tunnel.

We were created to have joy.  What this tells me is that even though we may experience it, sadness is not who we are meant to be.  We are not meant to be in pain or be angry or be weighed down by grief for our whole lives.

So much of life can be temporary or fleeting, and if losing something causes us to question who we are or doubt our purpose on earth, then maybe we need to reevaluate.  It is my belief that who we truly are does not depend on titles or material possessions, but rather in a divine nature that has been inside of us since before we were born into this life.

Circumstances beyond our control may steal our happiness for a time, but this does not define us.

We know who we are, or rather, whose we are.

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