Why Defining Moments Matter For All Of Us

Why Defining Moments Matter For All Of Us May 8, 2024

A man crying
Defining Moment for a Person
Image by Karen .t from Pixabay

Defining moments in life can happen fast and unexpectedly or result from something planned. Perhaps it is starting a new job, finishing college, or experiencing the death of a loved one. A defining experience is when something significant and sometimes painful takes place that you will never forget. 

Those moments often reveal who you are and what you value. And they frequently influence many other subsequent related experiences. 

These life-impacting moments force us to overcome our fears and act. That’s why defining moments are sometimes called turning points, moments of truth, or crossroads.

A Few Examples . . .

  • Divorce is a life-changing experience. Anyone who goes through a divorce has at least one, and maybe more, defining moment related to this event. We end up in a position where we must make pivotal decisions and choices that can fundamentally change our perceptions and behaviors for the rest of our lives. (I wrote about divorce here.)
  • The death of a loved one is also a defining moment. The passing of someone we love is a wake-up call for many as they are confronted with how short and fragile life is at times. (I wrote about death here.)
  • Diagnosis of a severe condition or disease, like cancer or diabetes, is undoubtedly one of those life-altering moments for us and for those who love us.
Movie film clippings
Moments in a Movie
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In 2021, a comedic film called Defining Moments with Burt Reynolds hit the theaters. The movie was about eight significantly different people facing huge decisions that became defining moments. 

Like many movies, there was a liberal bent and no biblical worldview.

But the film reminded me of three things:

  1. Every human has defining moments that matter.
  2. We have much less control over our lives than we think or want to admit.
  3. How we face and handle the unexpected will have ongoing repercussions. (Here’s a link to a good Psychology Today article that addresses what we can and cannot control.)

In your life’s defining moments, you face two options: step forward in faith and hope that God can work all things together for our good, or step backward into fear and hopelessness.

In other words, we either embrace the moments, even the difficult ones, with resilience, or we shrink back in anxiety. We either see the experience as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth or cower in the shadows of dread.

Defining moments can prevent stagnation as we find purpose in what’s happening and keep moving, or we bury our heads in terror of a falling sky. 

Falling Stars
Falling Stars
Image by Dung Tran from Pixabay

Here are some suggestions that will help you glean the most out of these moments:

  • Compartmentalize the experience. Defining moments are not always life-and-death moments, so don’t overreact or become overwhelmed. There is never a time when someone must stay stuck. Try to zoom out and see the bigger picture rather than get myopic. 
  • Take time to reflect on what happened before determining what’s next. If you don’t define the moment, it may define you. View the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Write the experience down. Journaling or blogging brings clarity and understanding. Words are powerful, and recording what happened, how you felt, and what you learned is invaluable. 

Our lives are like a pond of water. Sometimes, it is fresh and full of joy and life; sometimes, it is stagnant, and we don’t feel alive. But defining moments are dropped into every life as pebbles in the water, causing concentric ripples that bring change.

The stones and resulting ripples can be resented with bitterness or received with anticipation and even thankfulness.

The pebbles can shake us or stir us.

The leadership guru, John Maxwell, was correct. “The experience of pain or loss can be a formidably motivating force. We choose how we respond.”

Will we blow up or use the moments to grow up?

We choose. 

We decide. 

We determine how we will react to life’s defining moments.

Ripples from a Defining Moment
Image by Wolfgang Claussen from Pixabay

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