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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Character Building...Patooey!

I heard someone say that experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

Man, do I have a LOT of experience!

I have to say that throughout my life, I've been surrounded by people who were living out my dreams. There were times when I was really resentful about it. Other times, I've been very mature about it and happy for others. But what happens when someone you think doesn't deserve it is loaded with good things?

I have learned through my vast experiences, (see the quote above), that there is much more in life that I can't control than that which I can. I can't even control the events of my own life, so why should I spend even the amount of time it takes to blink my eyes being bitter about stuff that is happening in the lives of other people?

When I find myself surrounded by people who are living my dreams, good people and the not-so-much ones, I believe two things to be equally true. First, God has His own agenda for my life. Second, He has His own agenda for theirs.

No matter what I think I know about their life, I don't know what God is up to. Frankly, it's none of my business. I must focus on the first truth and concern myself with what He's up to in my life.

Character building is brutal. Doing the right thing is almost always more difficult than cheating. Especially when no one is looking, and no one will know. I had come to a place in my life where I absolutely hated the phrase, "be the bigger man!" This simply meant that if someone else did you wrong, don't sit around waiting and expecting them to make it right. Being the bigger man meant forgiving them. It may even mean going to them and asking
for their forgiveness for even the most trivial thing you may have done to escalate or prolong the matter. There have been times when I've been the so-called bigger man, but my motives still weren't pure. My expectation was that in being the moral compass, I would be the recipient of accolades and a tearful plea for my forgiveness. But more often than not, none of that came.

I had to learn to do the right thing simply because it was. Not for any rewards.

I believe I am in a place in my life now...finally, where I feel as if I can accept that other people are being blessed in ways that I long for in my own life. I have come to realize there isn't a finite amount of blessings in this world. They aren't being blessed at my expense. Their good fortune doesn't mean there's nothing left in the vault for me. At the same time, I don't need their blessings to be stripped from them in order to be blessed myself.

God is more concerned with my eternal well being than my temporal comfort.

The blessings God is giving me will serve to benefit me when and where it matters most.

Character is the vehicle which will determine the route you take in this life. The path you take cannot contradict the character vehicle you have built for yourself. For people with poor character, the path of their lives may even look good...for awhile. Eventually, it all catches up. (see: Rob Blagojevich, Bernie Madoff, etc.). If you are of this ilk, your deepest desires and intentions will eventually come to the surface, exposing anything which appeared good for what it really was.

For those who build a strong character, the quality of their path may actually go unnoticed. I remember attending a funeral of a man I knew who was a very sweet and caring man. But it wasn't until his funeral that I saw the lives he touched throughout his life. One by one, people from different parts of his life came to the podium and shared a unique story which shed light on the depth of this man's character. The co-worker, the waitress in his favorite restaurant, his customers, his neighbors, children...right down the line.

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
-- Charles Reade

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
--Galatians 6:7-10

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