Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Greatness

There is one in every circle of friends and associates. The one that when their name gets mentioned, someone will inevitably say "they are amazing" or "they are an inspiration", something to that effect. There are less of them than the others, unfortunately. They usually know that as well. There is something that stands out, maybe it is a dignity or a comfort about life. Their aura can be almost mystical sometimes. You don't know what it is about them but there is something that draws you in. What is that? Some kind of super power? I have a theory.

I love to be around these kinds of people. I like to sit and talk to them, really hear what they say. I observe how they are to others and what they say, or rather do not say about other people. I study their demeanor. One of the ones that comes to mind is a woman I went to church with. She is one of those people who would not stand out in a crowd, literally and figuratively. She is a petite woman of conservative dress, simple hair and no makeup. She is a seasoned mother and grandmother. She is a wife and a good, loving friend. She speaks softly and deliberately. When she does voice her opinion, it comes from knowledge of the subject and wisdom in experience. She has earned the respect of those in our church and they love to confide in her and seek encouragement. There is an ominous, quiet dignity about her. She is not boastful or proud. You wouldn't call her outspoken but when she has the floor, you are paying attention. She glows in her silence sometimes. There is a beauty in her presence that Chanel and Lancome could never put in a bottle. I believe what produces that is restoration through suffering. What you wouldn't know about her until you get to know her is how difficult her life was at points along the way. To be sure, she has been through quite a bit. Destructive relationships, financial hardships, unkindness at the hands of others at times made her broken. These trials though, did not kill her spirit. They were used somehow in a way that fortified her and made her a better being than she was before. These scars healed into something beautiful and useful and in ways she could have never imagined at the time.

Another personal example are two women that I know that suffer great physical trials. Their stories are different. They do not suffer from the same illnesses, have the same lifestyle or even know each other but I think of them every day. Endless doctors appointments, medications, treatments and sometimes little hope and no real answers can weigh on them. For both of them, the cure and the next chapter in health is not foreseeable. They both go on though. They go on in victory anyway. To speak to them you will hear the same types of things, what they are grateful for, how much they love their families, appreciate their friendships and that they care deeply for others around them. They love to encourage. How could two people who can struggle to meet the day sometimes be so willing to cheer others on and tell you what they love about life? Their struggles have taught them well. They could have both just lain in their beds and called it a day when it came to life. I don't think anyone would have argued with them but we would have missed out on a lot for not having them around to be introduced to us and teach us to be glad to be well and pay attention to what is going on around us. To them, they need others to understand how beautiful life really is, regardless.

Conversely, I have met more than my fair share of whiners. They are constantly gnawing at my time and peace with how much they hate their job, their living situation, their financial situation, andwhat is wrong with their friends. They love to talk about other people and criticize them. If you ask them how their day was it is more or less "I'm breathing" or "It was a day". They groan every Monday and tell everyone around them about how miserable it is to start a new week. They might go on to say other things but generally that is where they lose me. It seems as though not much is going on in their lives but man, do they have a lot to complain about! What brings that on? Why so little peace in their lives? Some will even try to make up their minds to be more positive but the efforts produce little if any fruit in most of them.

I submit that the wisdom and peace in life is earned. In my observances, the satisfaction of life flows more easily through those that have been wounded by it. Such a paradoxical thing to think about it. Peace comes from trial and dissatisfaction from too little of it? Seems to be true. Of the "Greats" in my life, they have been forged from raw metal into a precious work of art. Have you ever seen a sword being made? It starts out as dull looking, dark, plain metal. It is heated, hammer and bent. The process causes great stress to the metal but it has to be melted and pounded until it reaches its desired length and shape. Next it is soldered and etched leaving permanent marks on the metal. Once that is done, it is doused in water and buffed and polished until it shines. A sight to behold. You would not recognize the finished product from the raw material that it started as. You would want to have the finished one, not the piece it was before it was crafted. I look at life the same way. We are crafted by it with the trials and the sufferings we endure. Those who are fortunate enough to endure become something greater than they once were. The magnetic draw they have is a product of the process. We seek to be as they are and we get the gift of having them share with us what they learned in the forging. What a treasure it is to be around such people. If only more of us would seek to retain the knowledge and be humbled by it instead of trotting off, unaware of what we have been given in search of our own answers.

1 comment:

  1. The first paragraph is interesting; how people see this trait and acknowledge that there is something unique about another person. I am not sure about people knowing it about themselves; at least not the folks that truly have something different within themselves. They may be privy to this when people make comments in reference to them, but I postulate that they are always surprised to hear that about themselves. This is one of the reasons to listen to what people do not say and you will gain an insight as to what is in their hearts. How their speech is not filled with comments about other people, rather they speak of God and assisting others. They speak of teaching and feelings and emotions.