I was 18. Northwest Airlines was on a ground strike, which meant no flights were arriving or departing from my hometown, so my mom drove me to Sioux Falls, SD. While my dog, Gingersnap, waited in the car, she hugged me goodbye and I boarded the plane, heading off to college on the east coast.
I didn’t know one single person. I had no idea that the east coast culture was strikingly different from that in the Midwest. I was on my own, really on my own, for the first time in my life.
And I remember on that plane ride, thinking about who I wanted to be in that new chapter. What characteristics did I want to be true about the new college-bound me? What things did I want to leave behind in high school? What did I stand for?
Fast forward a few years where life has happened. Real life, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Hard knocks. Breath-taking moments of joy. Gut-wrenchingly difficult situations. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Moments of disbelief and despair and pain that hurts to the core. Seasons of abundance and provision. Some dreams come true and some unrealized.
And through all of it, the question still remains. What do I stand for?
Because life happens anyway. With or without us. Whether we engage or not. In the victories and defeats, every single choice I make, regardless of who is watching, defines me and what I stand for.
There have been times – lots of them – where I’ve come dangerously close to choosing the exact opposite of what I stand for. There have been times when I’ve driven right off the clif of what I stand for, willingly. While sometimes those choices make for good stories later, they haven’t been my proudest moments. And they drive me right back to defining and deciding and then living out what I stand for.
If I don’t know what I stand for, then how can I fight for the things that I want to be true in my life? How can I keep running when I want to quit? Where does my motivation to make the more difficult choice come from? How can I pass up instant gratification and indulgences that seem so satisfying at the time for a greater reward that will come later? Where does my strength come from in a moment of weakness?
When I know what I stand for, I live strong. I am at peace. My soul is awake. I can hear. I can respond. I am intentional. I live with purpose. I am alive.
What about you? What do you stand for? What things would you fight for? What are your non-negotiables? What would you like to be true about you?
It’s worth it for all of us to spend time thinking about – and then living from that place.