I got a D in photography one year in High School.
I failed my Freshman English class in college. (It didn’t help that I slept in the morning of the final. But still.)
I was rejected from being in the National Honor Society one year in High School because some anonymous person decided to report to the principal that I cheated on a test.
Why am I sharing this with you?
As human beings, sometimes we think that other people’s marks about us define who we are. We know better. But sometimes we need to be reminded. Your grades don’t define you. Your review at work does not define you. What someone else thinks about your parenting style or political view or haircut does not define you.
Your thoughts define you. Your actions define you. How you treat your spouse and your children? Of course this defines you. How you treat a stranger also defines you. How you handle adversity defines you. What we do with our spare time, how we serve others, the choices we make … these are all things that define us.
So the next time someone belittles, criticizes, labels, or falsely accuses you, sure — stand up for yourself if necessary. But resist the urge to spend too much energy fighting or defending or criticizing back. Instead, look inward. Look at your core. You know who you are. You know what you’re about. If you question your worth, don’t. Not for one second. Get on your knees and pray to a loving Heavenly Father who knows you and loves you unconditionally. He will remind you how awesome you are. And if you humbly and sincerely ask, He’ll even let you know what you can do to be even better.
That D in Photography? Well, you know what photography means to me. Documenting life is part of my core. Picture-taking is a part of my everyday. Literally.
That Freshman English class? I took it again. I got an A. Then I spent 12 years writing for Creating Keepsakes magazine. I published 9 books. I write for my family and for you — daily. Writing is another way of documenting life.
Cheating on a test? I will swear to my dying day that I didn’t cheat. In fact, I was so sick and tired of all the cheating that was going un-noticed in my classes. The fact that someone decided to take my opinion about that, flip it around, and create a lie? Well, of course it really ate me up at first. It didn’t matter what I told the principal. He sided with the other person.
But in the end, I didn’t care. I cared about my core. I cared that I was honest. I cared to move on with my life and hold my head high. I cared about being even more committed than ever to live a life that was honest. Integrity is everything.
I am grateful again and again for nurturing parents who helped me understand principles like this. Oh and thank you Dad, for always being interested in capturing the everyday. Having a picture of myself as a teenager in an oversized t-shirt, working on homework at the dining room table with a glass of milk beside me? Priceless.