by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Icy weather that kept me inside during the football play-offs created an unexpected writing experience. Watching these championship games leading up, as my husband says, to the defining moment in any football team’s season — the Super Bowl — has prompted me to review defining moments in my own life.

What makes defining moments? I think they are moments, sometimes major events, always memorable occurrences, that cause me to think in terms of “before” and “after.” They are the moments that define and redefine who I am. They are the moments that stand out — some positive, some not so grand. But they are the moments that have raised my awareness and helped me discover the truth of who I am and my life purpose.

This process began with me making a list of what I think of as the major events in my life to date. I suspect some on my list are not so unlike many of yours, including such occasions as meeting my husband and having a baby. These might be characterized as two of the greatest “touchdowns” of my life.

Then, there are the more challenging events, which for me include my dad’s passing when I was 10 years old; a homeless journey with my mom that landed us in Texas; my suspension from college. Some experiences are a mixture of happy and sad, such as the day my daughter (my only child) left for college and the day she got married. These events could be translated into a collection of tackles and sacks with a few injuries, dropped balls and penalties, as well as some unforgettable third-down conversions.

While my life appears to be the sum of four quarters of play action, these in and of themselves do not define my life. I realize that it’s been the way I’ve responded to each big and small play that delineates who I am.

It seems the secret, or at least one key ingredient, to being a good quarterback is how well I respond when forced out of my comfort zone. This is when the “pass rush” comes toward me, and I may feel I have no control. Do I get out of my comfort zone and make the essential play, or do I stay and take the sack and perhaps even fumble the ball?

There are times when I’ve wondered how to gain the skills to perfect my game, especially when the needed response would have me going outside the secure walls I’ve built for myself. Since I was introduced to the teachings of Christian Science — another defining moment in my life — I’ve been learning that I actually have all I need right now as a beloved child of God. I need only respond using my God-given abilities. The Bible tells me, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). These words remind me that God is always giving me everything I need to reach crowning achievements in my game of life. And when I have any doubts, I am assured, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). When I’m confused or unsure how to respond to whatever I’m facing, I can turn to God — what I know about God’s ever-presence, goodness and love — and I will feel the divine leading and guiding me.

Life isn’t just about the big plays, touchdowns and field goals. I’ve discovered many defining moments are those precious memories that happen in between the major events. So my next list was a list of memories that stand out, many that I now see taught me valuable life lessons.

One example among many is my earliest recollection, when I was nearly 4 years old. I recall the delight I felt in running up and down what seemed to me was a “huge hill” in the hallway of our house. I suspect it was some unleveled floor, as we lived in a very old house. But to a toddler, it was a hill that gave me much happiness. This dear reminiscence teaches me to remember the joy God promises in each moment and to respond with rejoicing as I run up and down the life-hills that I may face.

Needless to say, my memories list is a few pages longer than my major event list. This tells me that life truly is more about the moments — each individual moment, not just the grandiose events. Yes, watching the football play-offs this year has reminded me of the importance of staying present with my life so that I recognize and cherish all of the not-to-be-forgotten moments that teach me grand life-lessons.

May you and I reflect upon all the defining moments of our lives and be able to conclude, “I was there, I lived and breathed and played the game. I learned and I loved, I laughed and I cried, and I danced. Life is good.”