For the last few weeks I have been reflecting on my formation. I have been reflecting on formative experiences, people and events, each that have contributed to who I am becoming as a person. I made lists of formative things from my childhood, and things that God has uniquely formed in me.
At the same time, I have been reflecting on this past weekend, when I attempted to set a new personal best marathon time, and qualify for the Boston Marathon. For 22.5 of 26.2 miles of my race I was more than on pace, until a variety of factors led to it unraveling, and I missed the goal time. Following the race I got encouraging messages from family, friends, my coach, and training partners, all concerned that this had decimated me. Let’s be clear, I was disappointed, I wanted to make that mark, but my confidence to achieve this goal had not changed. But it did make me pause and wonder, should I be struggling more with this?
And here is what all this is making so clear to me. A central part of my formation comes from the meaning that I choose to make of all that I experience in life. I want to credit Jim Herrington for articulating this so clearly at an event I was attending, where he just came out and said that he believes meaning making is a crucial spiritual discipline for our formation and growth.
As I reflect on my formation I see it so clearly. Let’s be clear, I have been truly blessed in life, with incredible opportunities, people, and events that have shaped me so deeply. It was also clear to me that the vast majority of the formation that came from each of these was not what actually happened, it was the meaning I chose to connect to it. I chose for things to be helpful or hurtful, to give the benefit of the doubt or assume the worst. I chose to see God at work in my life, or to ignore that reality.
What’s the story are you telling yourself at work or home? About your family and friends? About your church or neighborhood? Your formation hinges upon the meaning making that you are choosing, your formation hinges on what you chose to make of what God places in your path each day.
Oh, in case you were wondering, here is what meaning I chose to take away from this weekend. I learned some things not to do, I learned what it was like to push my body to the edge, and I learned that this fall I will complete the Chicago Marathon well-prepared to achieve a time to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and to achieve a running goal that I have been working on for years!!! #bostonbound