Splashes of Color


I have a tendency to tell it like it is. I like to give my opinion. Some of my friends kindly say that I’m honest. My mother has often told me that everyone doesn't really need to know what I'm thinking all the time. But my personality leads me to see things as black and white. All or nothing. When I meet new people I really make an effort to balance these troublesome traits. At least in the beginning. I have a new helper assigned to the kids’ class I teach at my church. He’s from Russia and since I’m always eager for an opportunity to see how single men think I thought it might be a good time to dust off the sweeter, softer version of myself. This alter ego has been dormant for quite awhile. She last resurfaced when a widower insisted on sitting with me in church. I thought he was a bit annoying at first, but despite my lukewarm welcome, he persisted. 

During our weekly conversations, I tried to take the edge off my sometimes-sharper-than-intended tone. I forced myself to pause and thoughtfully consider my words before saying something. I found this was much more difficult than it seemed. My seat-mate would ask me a question. I would hesitate before saying the first thought that popped into my mind. Abandoning my first inclination, I would consider option B. Then discard it as probably too opinionated. I’d reflect on option C, then decide against it as maybe too negative. By the time I finally made up my mind on what would strike the perfect note as pleasant and positive, he had grown bored with my silence and moved on to a new topic. With new potential answers that I had to run through the impossible wringer in my head to twist out all the words I deemed unfavorable. Sometimes while I pondered, he’d stop talking altogether, figuring I was never going to speak and turn his attention to the church bulletin. Which I suspected was far more interesting than I was. I’m sure he thought I had the personality of a pencil. A dull one. That desperately needed sharpened.

I decided maybe this unrecognizable version of myself might need a few splashes of the old me mixed with it. In future interactions with single men, I would be mostly positive and upbeat yet perhaps allow a sassy remark or two. Maybe even an occasional opinion. Full of my fresh resolutions, I walked into church to find my Russian helper sitting in the lobby waiting for me to arrive. Instead of the pleasant hello I had intended, I found myself saying far too sharply, “What are you doing sitting out here? Have you already set up the classroom?” Unperturbed, he stared back at me, “I’m waiting for you, of course, to tell me what to do.” Well. At least he had the right idea. Over the next weeks as the Russian told me his life story and trials of dating American women, who he didn’t fully understand, I appointed myself his consultant. Serving in this official capacity, I could freely offer my opinion. He needed my advice. I had a job to do. He proclaimed himself born under a lucky star to have me as his guide.


I started with the most important issue I could think of after listening to one of his dating flops. “Do you use deodorant?” I asked him point-blank since I knew some Europeans didn’t. He huffily said of course he did and just for my information he even showered too. Moving past personal hygiene issues, I told him his emails were too long, his stories too self-promoting, his notions about American women were mistaken, his schemes to meet women were off-base. I told him some of his ideas about God and the church were misguided. To my surprise, he came in last week and said, “I’ve been thinking about what you said when you told me to grow up and take responsibility for my own life.” I thought I might have taken my truth-telling too far when I told him that. But he told me some of the things I've said to him made him think.

Although I have plenty of personality quirks that I can spend time improving, I don’t think I can change who I am at the core of my being. These traits that God created deep in my soul can sometimes be okay. Good enough. Even acceptable. In spite of my verbal missteps, tone blunders and word choice faux pas. Maybe splashes of color in my black and white world can be beautiful. In the way that all of us are a subtle reflection of the one who made us in his likeness. And created all of the vibrant characteristics that make us who we are.


Comments

  1. This is such a brave piece. Thank you for sharing!
    P.S. Love your new profile photo.

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    1. Diana,
      Thanks for always being there to hear the rest of the story! I value and cherish your wise counsel. Thanks for the compliments on my photo, too! :)

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  2. I laughed out loud at this! It seems that your helper is benefitting from who God made you to be! It's not always easy accepting who we are.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love this story. It's so easy to try to change ourselves - I know I have tried to many times. This is a great reminder to accept myself for who I am and let the chips fall where they may. Thank you!
    Christy

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    1. Thanks Christy! I love "let the chips fall where they may!"

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  4. Great article - just remember, you are great the way you are....the way God made you. Splashes of color are good, but the real you still shines wonderfully bright!!

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    1. Thanks Sharon - love that -- we shine wonderfully bright! :)

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  5. Incredibly witty and relevant, Valerie!

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  6. I think you are amazing and wonderful just the way you are! He is lucky to have a friend like you (just like I am!) :)

    P.S. I LOVE the pencil holder statue in the post. Where did you get it?

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    Replies
    1. You are too sweet Amy! Isn't the pencil lady great? She's from a vintage shop but I don't remember where! :)

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