When I was a little kid, I remember being asked over and over and over, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I also remember my answer changing just about as often as I change purses (and if you know me, that's pretty darn often). I wanted to be an astronaut, a rock star, a lawyer, a dancer, an actress, a writer, a teacher, the president. Let's just say I was an ambitious child...maybe even a little bit of a dreamer. :)
I also remember being crushed for a period of time when I realized that I could never be one of the things I dreamed of.
For a while, I had determined that I was going to be an astronaut. I wanted to walk on the moon, fly into space, and of course eat stale, crunchy ice cream. But when I found out that all astronauts must have perfect vision and no asthma (two things I am lacking), my dream was grounded faster than a space shuttle re-entering the earth. As quickly as I had dreamt it up, my future "identity" had been destroyed.
What I learned as I grew older though, is that people should have been asking me who I wanted to become rather than what I wanted to become.
There's a huge difference.
There are careers we can strive for that are unattainable, unsustainable and temporary...but character is always within reach and always boundless. No matter what state our health, our home or our economy is in, we can never be unwillingly stripped of our character. It is defined by the daily choices that we alone choose to make.
So now, the question is...who do I want to be when I grow up?
There are two lists of qualities I refer to when I define who I aspire to be. The first, Proverbs 31, is a great chapter about being a (future) wife and woman of noble character:
"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life...
...She sets out about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks...
...She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hand to the needy...
...She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue...
...Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
-Proverbs 31: 10-30
Talk about a tall order. That's some pretty lofty goals listed there. Inevitably all of us women will fall short of one or more of these qualities in our lifetime, but what a heck of a character to always strive for!
The other list I refer to is something my good friend and former boss, Joel Thomas, suggested that we create annually. It's called a "To Be" List. It's a list of about 5-7 character traits that we would like to be known for, with accompanying scripture. I keep this list near me and refer to it often as a means to keep myself in check. Here's my current list:
1. PATIENT: "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him." -Psalm 37:7
2. HUMBLE: "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way." -Psalm 25:9
3. COMPASSIONATE: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another." -Zechariah 7:9
4. DISCIPLINED: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." -Proverbs 1:7
5. JOYFUL: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." -Psalm 100:2
6. GRATEFUL: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
So who do you want to be when you grow up?