Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NASB)
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about her experiences with her grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. What she has been told—and has noticed—is that her grandma’s two or three most outstanding character traits—the two or three things she think of when she thinks of “Grandma”—are what stand out the most now. For example, her grandma worries. She finds something to worry about, constantly worries about it happening, and only stops worrying about it once it happens or she is distracted by something new to worry about. This is a repeated pattern that will characterize the remainder of her life on this planet.
I quickly found myself wondering what my two or three traits would be, were I in her situation. What would be the lasting trait that characterizes my life, were I racked with a disease such as this? What would people think of when looking at me that would cause them to invariably say, “Oh, yes, that’s definitely Emily” . . . ?
When someone is dealing with a disease such as this we do not hold them responsible for that trait—often these people do not know who they are, let alone possess the ability recall Scripture that tells them to not worry (Matt. 6:31, 34; 10:29–31; Luke 12:22, for example). Even if they were were reassured by Scripture for a moment, they would forget within 10 minutes and be back at it!
When I consider where I am now—during this time where my character continues to be molded and shaped—what are my two or three character traits that stand out? If I were to ask one or two of my closes friends to pick two or three words to honestly describe my character, what stands out? What leaks out of me during times of trial and adversity? What shines (or glares) the brightest?
I know what I want to leak out of me. I know often what leaks out is opposite of what I desire. I also know that I have been given the ability to change.
I often find myself reading Philippians 4:8 as a reminder of where I want my mind to dwell: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” We are told to think on these things, yet I also want these things to mark my character.
I desire to speak truth (Eph. 4:25), to be honorable (Prov. 3:35, 11:16), do the right thing (cf Daniel 1:8–16), to be pure (Matt. 5:8, 2 Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:15)—if these things characterize my life, then prayerfully I am someone people want to be around!
The most important character trait I value is integrity: who I am in the dark; who I am when alone. Webster’s defines integrity as incorruptibility, soundness, or completeness. It is a wonderful thing to be known as a person of integrity. I pray this is true in my life and yours as well.
Emily is a counselor-in-training in RGCC’s training program and is working toward her NANC and IABC certifications as well as her college degree in biblical counseling. She lives with Multiple Sclerosis is unmarried and has a great interest in missions. I consider her a dedicated servant to God's people in the local church and on the mission field.