Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Compliments


“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14


Have you ever received a compliment that you think might stick with you the rest of your life?  I got one from my friend Jill once.  It was one of those terrible chain mail-like emails where you had to list three people and then give them each a compliment, and then they had to list three people, and so on and so on.  I don’t remember who I listed, but I remember what Jill said about me:  “She always does the right thing.”

That was one of the nicest things anybody has ever said about me.  Oh, I’m sure somebody’s told me I had nice hair and meant it, or that I’m a good cook or whatever, but those compliments don’t have staying power for me because they are minute to minute.  One minute with the window down and my hair wraps itself around my head like a turban.  One minute too long on Facebook and I’ve burned the macaroni.

That compliment said something about my character and my character is something I think I can keep.  It said that I was fair and that I had others’ intentions at heart.  It said that even though sometimes the road might be rough, that I would choose the right path.  I loved it and I love Jill, who coincidentally always does the right thing too.  We also share the same gift of “telling it like it is”, so if you ever need an intervention, you know who to call! 

Well today I received my second life-sticking compliment.  It was from a near stranger.  His name is Larry and he’s stepped on my toe in Zumba before, but besides that we’ve had limited contact.  We smile and say hi, but I only just learned his name today. 

He said: “You seem like you’re always happy and really enjoy life.”   

I told him that I do, and then he proceeded to ask me what I did for a living, and I told him I’m a Lady of Leisure.  He seemed surprised by this.  Then he tried to get me to go back to school to get a degree, and I told him I already had one, and then I had to spill the rest of my work experiences.  He was impressed with my litany of qualifications and tried to convince me I needed a job (like I need anyone else to remind me I have NO money).  Okay, substituting.  I still have substituting!    

But his opening comment stuck with me. 

“I’m happy and I enjoy life.”   

Or at least I seem that way to others.  But for the most part, it’s the truth.  Even though I have days where I think I’m getting the shaft, or that the whining will never end, or that it will take an act of Congress to get something done, I’m mostly happy. 

Even when I burn dinner, or I’m cussing the sewing machine, or the dog won’t stop barking in the middle of the night and I have to go out to the barn with the broom and chase him around, I mostly enjoy the process.

So how do others see you?  Do they tell you?  Do you agree?  Sometimes it takes a stranger to make us see ourselves a little clearer.  And hopefully we’re happy with what we see.  The funny thing is, my impression of Larry is the same as his impression of me.  He seems like a fun person to be around every time I see him.  He’s never without a smile.  He dances in Zumba like no one is watching (which we’re really not because we’re all concentrating too hard on not falling down ourselves).  And he acknowledges people every time he sees them.  I learned today that he’s a retired high school teacher and I’ll bet he was a great one! 

He taught me something, didn’t he?