Defining Before Knowing


Pat Burleigh


As the school year draws to an end, as well as my high school career, I look back to see what has been one of the most prominent things I have learned since my time at Mansfield Christian.

I did not enter into the sphere of MCS students until my sophomore year when I became a part of the Independent Studies program, which allowed me to attend part time. Once senior year approached, I made the decision to enroll as a full time student, which was ultimately based on my desire to experience all high school had to offer. After all, you only go through this time of your life once.

I had my own opinions and assumptions of what it might be like, but I was not quite prepared for the emotional impact it would have on me. During this time, I have gained a particular piece of knowledge that I will carry with me throughout the years to come. And, it is this:

Some people will attempt to define you before they know you.

Too often, people become known for what is said about them rather than for who they truly are.  Comments become labels. Labels become identities. Rarely, do people get past seeing others through the eyes of someone else. The absence of a willingness to look beyond hinders the ability to ever really get to know someone.

I came to MCS with hopes of building relationships that would deeply enrich my life, and I did. This is true for most of us. But, with my high school experience came exposure to some strife and drama. Can I walk away having gained from both positive and negative encounters? Absolutely. No experience goes without being duly noted in one’s life.

Most importantly, I learned that it is necessary to sift through the rumors and comments made about people and look inside to see who they really are. Legacy and what I will hold on to as I  leave is the simple reality of my need and that of others to be known. Truly known.

You are not defined by your peers. You are defined by a loving God who knows you.

You are his treasured possession. His handiwork. His beloved.

This is the unwavering truth that I will take with me.