When you think of the phrase “life-defining moments,” what comes to mind? It might seem silly to think about, but I see it as a moment bringing meaning and purpose to my life. A memory or event giving me direction on this journey, where I often feel like I’m stumbling.
I was walking through an airport shop to pick up a snack before my flight took off. There, by the checkout, were all the typical magazines with their blaring captions. One caught my attention. On the cover was a picture of Oprah Winfrey and the headline read: 5 Moments That Have Changed My Life.
I paid for my snack and boarded my flight, but the headline stuck with me. I started thinking. What moments in my life have had the most significant impact? Memories began to flood my mind. My heart was tender as I sat on my 2 ½ hour flight and just let the memories flow.
Home from the Hospital
My first memory is of my sister coming home from the hospital. I think this moment was engraved on my mind because we had a family film of the whole event. The thing is, my recollection is from my perspective, and so even though I was only 3 ½, I know this is the first impactful memory I have.
My mom sat next to me on the couch and gently placed my sister in my arms. I’m sure I had been practicing with my baby dolls, and so I knew exactly what to do. I quickly took control of the situation and flipped my sister onto my shoulder to give her a back a good pat.
This moment was the beginning of my life as a nurturer. Being a big sister taught me how to play nice and share. Eventually, I discovered how to work through the contention and frustration often associated with any sibling relationship. This moment was the beginning of my journey to become what I am today.
Learning about God
My life has been full of spiritual learning moments about God, my divine purpose in life, and how to become the person I’m meant to be. As I flipped through the most meaningful events related to this major part of my life, I was drawn to a memory from my high school days.
I don’t know many teenagers who fondly remember their torturous teen years. During my time in high school, I was blessed with the reprieve of attending seminary, a religion class, during my lunch hour. I attended all four years but will admit I wasn’t always as actively engaged in the learning process. The moment with the most significant impact during this time in my life wasn’t a specific event or distinct memory, but more of a growing feeling that started in my brain and eventually spread all the way to my toes.
The knowledge I gained from that moment transformed itself into a poem. I shared the poem with my seminary teacher, and it made its way onto the cover of the program for our graduation. This poem became the foundation upon which my faith has grown.
too Powerful to be denied—
A love unlike the world,
unselfish and giving.
A Father with a constant consciousness
deep inside my heart and mind.
A Brother, sacrificing and loving
expecting only a return of love —
I owe my life
I have to offer.
For what they have given me is priceless,
A knowledge of their presence and truth
A love too unexplainable
and a deep humility.
In return, I can only strive
hoping to become as they are—
The Hallway Outside My Apartment
Do you have one of those memories where you can replay it in your mind and feel the same emotions vibrating through your body? Mine is the image of my boyfriend walking toward me as I stood outside my apartment. His smile melted my heart and sent my stomach in a kind of butterfly somersault medley. It was at that moment and a million others since I knew I loved him.
I married that boyfriend about nine months later, and we have never looked back. Something about love changes us. It teaches us about thinking of other’s needs, how to effectively communicate what you’re thinking, and how to compromise.
This moment later defined me as a wife, trusted friend, confidant, partner, adventurer, planner, help meet, consoler, and tandem bike stoker. Life with my husband has helped me discover who the best me is.
The birth of each of our children left little imprinted memories. A culmination of all they represent to me is wrapped into one memory. The anticipation, infertility, labor, joy, worry, and unconditional love are all bound together in the beautiful gift of motherhood.
From a very young age, I anticipated this period of my life. And it grabbed hold of every imaginable emotion, tossed me like a rag doll, and left me a more compassionate, patient, tender, strong, and wise person. There were moments of smiles and giggles, but there was also heartbreak and pain: worry and despair. The greatest thing I learned from raising our little family is it’s meant to be hard for a reason.
We don’t appreciate the good if we don’t ever struggle, we learn the most when we are put through the refiner’s fire, and growing pains are real. It is much easier to look back and see the good than it was while we were in the midst of it all. I’m grateful to see how their births, which marked the beginning, all changed us for the better.
When I hear the word pivot, I can’t help but be reminded of the scene from Friends, where Rachel, Chandler, and Ross are trying to move a piece of furniture up a narrow staircase.
Shortly before our youngest graduated from high school, I had a powerful experience showing me how my life needed to pivot. I was working outside of the home for the first time in 25 years. I loved my job and felt a new kind of fulfillment, so it was quite a shock when I was gently led to start writing again. I think we often get moving along in such a way that we don’t notice we need to change.
I was searching the internet when I stumbled across a website looking for contributors. My search was not related in any way to what I found, but the idea caught my attention. I clicked on another link and read more about what the position required. I had an impression so powerful it was as if someone had poured a bucket of warm water all over me.
The words came to my mind: “Lori, you have a story to share.” The words were simple yet so profound. Years ago, when I wrote my little poem in seminary, I fell in love with writing. But the demands of life and discipline on my part put any idea of writing on a back shelf.
I never wrote for that website, but finding it when I did led me on my current journey. It has been one of continual pivoting as I’ve tried to find a balance between what I feel prompted to write, what you, my readers want to read, and still finding time for my family. Again, its been more about the process than anything else — the experience of learning, expanding my knowledge, and sharing little bits of wisdom along the way.
The dictionary defines “remember” as: recalling to the mind by an act or effort of memory; to think of again. Our memories should help us recognize our growth, to learn from our mistakes, and remember those life-defining moments. They are not there to fill us with regret, shame, or pain, but to help us practice progress.
Did you know the word “remember” is used 497 times in the scriptures? When I’m reading along and see “remember,” it makes me stop to take note of what is important. What is it God wants me to remember, and why? I do not believe any life-defining moment happens by chance. There are no coincidences, only moments divinely placed in our life for a reason.
What are some of your life-defining moments?
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