One of my favorite authors and workshop presenters, Paula D'Arcy, recently wrote about a visit she'd made to a local county jail where she was invited to give an inspirational talk. Before her talk, an inmate asked whether he could share his story.
The man's story was extremely moving, D'Arcy said, and he ended with a song that in her words "cut a path through the mind's usual chatter." All the inmates were on the edge of their seats, clapping and shouting encouragement to the man who shared his story. By the time D'Arcy gave her talk, everyone in the room was open and ready for a dose of hope.
The line that drew the longest applause that morning, D'Arcy said, was this: "Your pain and failures do not define you. What defines you is the spirit moving in life."
Such a message surely brought hope to those inmates. But it also can bring hope to you and to me. Our lives, too, have contained pain. Perhaps they still do. We've likely had our share of failures, too. So it's good to remember that those things do not define us.
To hear that message and remember the truth of it, however, we often need to shut out all the noise of the world around us—noises that play on our fears, on our greed, on our desire to buy more and more, and on our negative side. Tune that out. Remember you're defined by something much larger. And let hope fill your heart today.