Today is my mom's 83rd birthday! And I want her to know I've not forgotten what she wrote in my autograph book more than 50 years ago:
"Personality is what you are to others, character is what you are."
So often we are judged by our outward appearances...our looks, our style of dress, how much we weigh, how we present ourselves publicly, and so forth. As a teenager, one of my close friends told me, "if it wasn't for your hair...you would be...nothing! Really? I laugh at that memory now. I know she was trying to compliment me and in an awkward way was saying that I did a pretty good job with my hair style and it was one of my best outward features.
Sometimes even now friends make comments to me like "you need to get a life" or "you need to get out more often". When I hear that sort of thing, I just accept that they are making a judgment about an aspect of my personality that they can see outwardly.
My brother Don, who happens to be fighting a very serious form of cancer, updated his blog recently and talks about risking intimacy in relationships. We don't always let the barriers down and allow others to see us up close and personal. Sometimes I hesitate to "show myself" because I don't want to seem like I am trying to draw attention to myself or make it look like I am asking for a pat on the back. It's often more comfortable just to keep things between me and God.
I also don't like rejection (who DOES?!) and I've lived enough years now to fully know that not everyone will accept me for who I really am, what I have to say, or love me in spite of my best (and often flawed) attempts at communicating. Still, being misunderstood is painful.
Having said all of the above, I want to share a couple things that gave me a lot of personal joy yesterday. My hubby and I took a couple of hours to pick up donated casseroles, soups, and cookies from our church and deliver them to an inner city ministry. We had opportunity to chat with the house mom and a young girl doing some community service as part of her legal obligation. After that, we stopped at a local restaurant and picked up some food which we delivered to a friend who is staying day and night at the children's hospital with her special needs son who was admitted with breathing problems, and her 2 month old nursing daughter. Her other two children are with their grandmother. My friend isn't married and can't work, so finances are very limited and she simply could not afford to buy meals at the hospital.
I haven't stopped to analyze why yesterday was so meaningful to me personally or why I felt such joy in serving others. But if I had to guess, I would say it is probably because in spite of our own job uncertainty and my brother's health crisis, and a few other things going on that keep me on my knees, I realized again how very blessed I have been in so many ways. There's just something about getting close enough to the real life situations of others that makes you realize you don't have it so bad, in spite of frustrating or even agonizing circumstances.
So I want to say "thank you Mom!" for instilling in me very early on that character development is far more important than any of the things that people see about my personality.
"...for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." I Samuel 16:7