names have been omitted in this post
He held my hand as we walked along the Trinity River… the sun was shining and the backdrop was one of green trees, water that showed a reflection of azure blue sky and a few white clouds streaked like an afterthought in a painting of perfection. We had sat for an hour or so on the edge of the rocks watching the water lap over them at our feet. Enjoying the rays of sunshine on our faces, the comfortable quiet between us sprinkled amongst bits of conversation and laughter we'd sat clasping hands. We had watched as turtles made their steady diligent way in the water, their tiny brave heads peeking out as people clad in workout attire skipped the rocks nearby... their dogs wagging their tails following, happy to be outside.
It had been a wonderful way to spend my day off work and as we now walked along the gravel trail to head back to his truck, he squeezed my hand and smiled at me… "You know… I had some initial preconceived assumptions about you that were really wrong." He told me.
"Really?" I asked with a smile and spoke "And what might those have been?" I asked with a twinkle in my eye and a teasing tone.
"You know… the first time I saw you I thought you were going to be high maintenance. But you're not… you're far from it. You're very down to earth… you don't mind being outside in nature and you're far from pretentious." He replied. "I mean… I'm glad… I guess what I'm saying is I like that." He smiled at me.
I squeezed his hand affectionately and spoke "Awww… I've had other people say the same thing. It's funny though. I guess we all do that to some extent, don't we? We see someone and automatically draw conclusions that may be totally off base. Then we get to know them." I paused and smiled at him. "You know… I did the same thing with you. I had this idea that we wouldn't have a lot to talk about but then got to know you and realized you have this great personality. So… " I trailed off and leaned in toward him closer with a grin "I was wrong… I was pleasantly surprised… and I kinda like being pleasantly surprised!" I added with a laugh.
He grinned back at me and nodded "You do, huh? I do too… you just take joy in the simple things and I like that about you." He smiled at me with love in his eyes and spoke "I adore you, Jennifer Lea…"
The simple things in life… whether it's a chocolate milkshake, a sunny day, the discovery of a new trail to walk or jog… a new song that we love, a new recipe we've dared try and find we like or just the contented spot in someone's arms that we love… the simple things are really the big things in life. It's those simple things that can bring great joy to our everyday. The simple things make me smile… they often can't be bought or are some of the least expensive things purchased… a loaf of bread to feed the ducks at the pond, a favorite movie in with hot chocolate and whipped cream on a chilly night… or making frozen pops in the summer with a favorite fruit juice in ice cube trays… whatever it is… it doesn't have to cost a lot to make a moment special and memorable. But sometimes image, ego, money, material things and a deep need to succeed in all the wrong ways can become someone's life goal. Someone who is of a narcissistic nature won't find satisfaction in Christ, or a simple cup of cocoa or even watching their children delightedly run through a sprinkler on a hot day. They always want more, more, more.
Many of us know that at the end of our life it really won't matter how much we spent on our house, how much our car was or how many designer bags we owned. No matter what our background, ethnicity or sex what we will be remembered for above all else is kindness. We will be remembered for the condition of our heart… and what we gave… did we bear beautiful fruit or did we produce pain comparable to thistles?
New International Version
By their fruit you will recognize them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
I was born and raised in a town where when you initially meet someone often times one of the first questions asked is about your family… they want to know who your daddy is, who your granddaddy was, who you know and where you went to school. In some circles the most desired answer to those questions are being related to someone in high ranking financial status in the community, having a degree from Texas Christian University, a long attendance to one of the finest private schools the city has to offer and naturally membership to one of the various country clubs… and hopefully one of those that includes "old money"… because new money just isn't the same. It can be an experience of complete and utter nausea that can elicit plenty of internal eye rolling, gagging and sheer strength to not chuckle in complete amused astonishment at how people behave. The questioning of who you know and who you're related to is enough to make anyone with grounded sense shake their head at minimum or want to flee somewhere far away where they can live free of twenty questions and feeling as though their life was inspected with a magnifying glass within a nano second of meeting someone. As Priscilla Davis once said “People in Fort Worth enjoy being the big fish in a little pond.” Obviously a generalized statement yes, one that can't be applied like a blanket and yet I personally find that statement to be in some cases incredibly insightful and true. When we look for assurance based on having all the "right" things that society deems correct we lose sight of what really makes for a joy filled life. When we plant ourselves somewhere and never venture away because living anywhere else we would disappear into the wallpaper and not be noticed we are subscribing to a life of needing to be validated. When we endorse a life of needing more and more we are buying into the idea that we need the things of the world to make us happy when the simple could satisfy… we will have been swept up into the land of gotta have it's and comparing to what the neighbors own… accumulating more debt, more strain and more despair in the shadows of that shiny facade of perfection.
There are those who are financially wealthy and haven't allowed it to go to their head… who would give the shirt off their back and no one is a stranger. There are those who attempt to paint themselves as having everything… and they do… except love. There are those who behave as if they are one way and in reality behind closed doors they are another. The one who is of a narcissistic nature doesn't wear kindness like a pretty jacket… they don't dispense acts of love with humility and genuineness. Instead of being known for kindness they want to be known for their success. Instead of doing the right thing they twist the truth and manipulate. Instead of loving others they strive for control. Instead of being content with being a little fish in a big lake they want to ostentatiously jump large and in charge from the tiny pond. Instead of finding joy in the small and simple they find a boost from the shiny and grand.
What are we putting out there in the world?
Are we putting out what we want our children to embody?
What legacy are we leaving behind?
One of needing to be the big fish?
Or a life of being content with simple kindness?