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Characterized—How So?

Characterization is the color of the ribbon that wraps you in the package that’s you. It’s the stripe that defines you. What’s the best characterization of you when uncertainty hovers as the new norm over daily living? 

Whether it hovers for a season or indefinitely, during uncertain times I believe most people are open to a good word—a reason to smile, a promise of hope for the future, an encouraging message for life that may have taken us off track for a while. 

May I offer 3 positive suggestions that comprise a message for life?

1. Pursue qualities that withstand the test of time and tribulation. 

Qualities that form the foundation of all other human qualities include honesty, integrity, courage, self-awareness, and wholeheartedness. These qualities characterize who we are as human beings. 

 “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.”—Aristotle

A habit of honesty, integrity, courage, and authenticity will never fail you. 

The human potential to enjoy and appreciate life’s precious times can be challenged by feelings of  “What next?” However, waiting for the other shoe to drop does not have to be inevitable. That notion does not have to dominate our thinking or characterize our pursuits. Victorious living is characterized by foundational qualities, not by fear.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —H. P. Lovecroft

Despite H. P. Lovecroft’s quote, there is an antidote: the quality of courage.

These words were spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt during his Presidential inauguration March 4, 1933, were these:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

2.   Pursue that which is lasting.

When all is said and done, it is as true today as it has been for centuries that gold coins are a prize to go for—a trophy to hold, a reward to cherish. There is a thread, however, that runs throughout human history. You’ve heard it: We can’t take our coins with us.

We can’t buy friends who genuinely care about us when the world around us starts spinning out of control. Coins can’t make us secure when the end is near. Coins can’t contribute to our well being when the future for us is ending. 

Who will heal our diseases, hold us when we’re scared, redirect us when we’re lost?

We long to be safe, to find security, to have assurances. Such commodities are not always available. Sometimes they’re quite elusive. We can’t buy good health. Coins can’t get what isn’t there. Coins are time-related. What happens when the aisles are empty of toilet paper for Pete’s sake?

Will you be caught, characterized by the grip you have on the coins you can’t take with you?

3.  Pursue a goal worthy of your pursuit.

I used to run on the track in Lambert Fieldhouse at Purdue University during the time I was a student. I pretended a crowd filled the grandstand as I pursued an imaginary medal, circling the track, lap after lap. 

The vision got me where I wanted to go—to the finish line.

Intent characterized me. Direction and purposefulness did as well. With or without my pretend crowd, I pushed for the goals I set for myself. Motivation came from within. Philippians 3:14—I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 

God’s unmistakable hand on your life and mine is available to give us worthy pursuits. Hold onto the single thing you can carry into eternal life. Consider the only guarantee of anything continuing past the finish line: your relationship with God. 

That relationship is characterized by 3 words: YOU AND ME.

Isaiah 43:3-5 says this: I am the Lord your God, your Savior. You are precious in my sight and honored and I love you. Do not fear for I am with you.

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