I’ve gotten hooked on this new TV show called, “Chasing Life.” It’s about a girl in her twenties with leukemia. {I’m pretty sure we can thank John Green for this kid-cancer story trend.} Last week’s episode included a conversation between another young guy with cancer and the main character, who hasn’t yet told her family or co-workers that she’s sick.

When she hushes him, he sarcastically says, “Oh yeah, we wouldn’t want to mention THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YOU.”

That’s kind of the crux of the show so far. Still in shock from the diagnosis, this woman doesn’t want to admit that her illness is now more important than her career, her family or her love life. In her case choosing what defines her has been taken out of her hands. The choice of what’s most important is no longer hers.

I’m thankful that’s not the case for me, though I’ve certainly gone through seasons when life’s circumstances took that choice away – at least for a while.

Since I watched that episode last week, the phrase “most important thing about you” has been playing in my head in a loop. And I’ve wondered – What is the most important thing about me?

And then I wondered if those who know me would answer that question the same way I would.

And then I started thinking about how “the most important thing” changes as our seasons change.

Sometimes my brain just won’t quit.

Since Adrienne was born I’ve realized that for the last six years, the most important thing about me (according to me) is that I had a preemie. That was especially true the first year after Annalyn was born (seven weeks early) and during my pregnancy last year.

But that isn’t the only thing I’ve declared most important about me. For a long time, though I didn’t admit it to many people, the most important thing about me was that I’d helped plant a church, a church that failed.

Before that the most important thing was that I’d almost been fired.
Oh, and then there was the season when being laid off was the most important.
And for a long time it was my job as a fundraiser that was most important.

During college it was my major.
Or that I went to the Baptist Student Union.
Or that I was friends with that girl who died.
Or that I was from Kansas City.

And earlier than that the most important thing was my class rank…
…or my musical abilities…
…or that I was captain of the academic team…
…or that I dated a senior…

Today if you ask me about the most important thing about me, I’m not sure how I could answer in one word. Maybe I could do it in three:


But I’m also a writer, and I work part-time from home, and I love reading, and I’m a cat person.

I’m kidding. Nobody cares if I like cats.

Maybe my reluctance to pick just one thing to be the most important is why I have such a hard time writing bios. It’s also likely behind my tendency to have too much on my plate at all times – and why, throughout my life, I’ve found myself with many friends but very few I’d call best.

Of course, boiling my entire being down to a word or two is never going to work. It won’t work for anyone, really. We’re too complex for that, most of us. (All of us? I think so.) Still, all this thinking about THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ME reminded me of two necklaces I love.

One is four-sided and each side is engraved with a word: created, chosen, celebrated, cherished. The other one says, “I am His,” on the back.

Even though bios and profiles always seem to need writing, I don’t think it would hurt to let go of all those other labels and definitions. After all, you can’t sum up a person with a game of Mad Libs. But if I have to answer the question, perhaps the engravings on those necklaces would be a good place to start – and a good place to stop.

This will all probably keep rattling around my head for a while. It’s an intriguing question with lots of layers. What’s the most important thing? According to who? For how long? Which answers change and which stay the same? What do I WANT to be the most important thing about me – and is it? SO MUCH THINKING TO DO.

How would you answer the question today?
What’s the most important thing about YOU?

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