Friday, December 23, 2011

Engraving Character

What is character?  The word character comes from the Greek, meaning an engraved mark, as in describing the process of minting coins or stamping.  An engraver makes the same motion again and again, each stroke digging a bit deeper into the stone or metal.  If weather, everyday use, or natural disaster attacks the stone, it will still stand.  The top layers may begin to erode away, but the integrity of the etching is left intact due to the layers and layers of copied motions.

During the 1600's in France, character became associated with one's most defining qualities or nature.  Today, this is the most commonly used definition of character.  However the two are still related.  When you hear on the news about a man saving an elderly person from a burning building, or a woman diving into an icy lake for a drowning child, the response is often the same.  He or she was just a regular guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time.  When that opportunity arose, the person acted instinctively, out of habit.  While we may not regularly play hero, our everyday actions are quietly defining our character.  The small choices we make each day add one more layer of etching into our character.  Only when tested by fire do we recognize the layers underneath.

Sometimes I think I will arrive at age 40, 50, or 60 and magically be a wise and Godly woman.  But it is my practice now in the small things which defines who I will be both today and in forty years.

If I make a habit to take an interest in the grocery clerk even if I am tired and cranky, I will be more likely to be hospitable to all strangers around me.  If I pick up trash when I see it, even when it's not my own, I will cultivate a greater appreciation for creation and my responsibility to steward it.  If I spend a few minutes each day to pray for others, I will develop a habit of intercession.

What are some small actions you do each day to define your character?  Are there things you brush aside out of inconvenience or annoyance that are in actuality worthwhile to the engraving your character?

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