How would you define the term “life?” When I searched Merriam-Webster for the definition of life I was somewhat surprised to see that there are 20 different definitions of life. The definitions included the scientific— “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”— the brash but true— “quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body”—and finally, the encouraging post-modern belief that life is— “the period from birth to death.”
In all of their definitions, the editors over at Merriam-Webster fall short in their detached attempts to define something that can only be experienced.
So, what is life?
I think that life can only be defined on a person-by-person basis; what is living to one person is insanity to the next. If life and living were able to be fully defined through words in a dusty textbook, the substance—no, the very humanity—of life would be lost amidst the serifs and quotation marks.
You see, life is more than that space between conception and death. Life and existence consist of big moments and little moments that make our fleeting time here on earth worth it. The snapshots that fill photo albums and the memories that make us smile or shed a tear are the things that indicate life.
Beyond the abstract mementos that summarize our existence is something more precious; other people. The people that navigate this uncertain world alongside us are the ones that make this life worth living. The weirdos that come into our lives and choose to stick around for the long-haul, through the messes and the successes, are a precious gift from God. There will be more who come and go than there will be those gems that stick around, but in the end you’ll know who your tribe is through their continued presence (and the fact that they put up with all your quirks).
Moments. Memories. People. What else could there be?
In addition to the moments, memories, and people that define life, there is an author of your life and creator of your soul; that is the God of the Bible. There is also someone who has defeated death and offers an eternal life of bliss: Jesus Christ.
Every definition of life that the world attempts to give falls short because it is based on something temporal and meaningless. Our souls long for more than the pleasures and happiness of this world can offer us. Yes, life on earth can be a joy-ride, but there comes a point when the ride is over and you're looking mortality in the face. It is then that you’ll realize that there was always something more. You’ll realize that you were chasing after wind all along.
Through Christ life is more than just that space between conception and death. Life for Christ has substance, an eternal meaning, and a definite purpose.
So, how might we define life?
Life may be defined as that elusive term which has no succinct parameters by which a sufficient definition can be determined. Life is a beautiful mix of chaos and happiness; of moments and others; of love and loss. When lived for something more than ourselves, life finds eternal direction and meaning.
How will your life be defined?