Life is funny. I had outlined logical plans for pursuing a specific, tangible goal; however, the powers that be had other plans in mind. Little did I know when I moved to Akron, Ohio in 2003 to pursue doctoral studies that it would be fertile with opportunities for character growth. When I think of character growth, I think of those “intangible” qualities-selflessness, patience, kindness, compassion, unconditional love, and being alot less judgmental-that are ALWAYS in need of cultivation and refinement. Evidently, these qualities needed refinement in my character because these are the qualities that have improved in my character.
Interaction with close friends and being involved with their overwhelming life issues provided me with opportunities for character growth. I found myself putting a halt to my personal activities so that I could listen to them. I found myself focusing on them in my prayer time and less on my own personal issues. Did it sometimes interfere with my study schedule? Yes! Did times exist when the information I heard was mind-boggling? Certainly! Did instances exist where I wanted to be able to snap my fingers and make it better for them? You bet!
Although my heart ached (and still aches) for the welfare of my friends and the burden of their issues weighed (and still weighs) me down at times, I am thankful for the opportunity to cultivate and refine those “intangible” character qualities. I am still on the path to the doctorate, just not the logical, calculated path that I carved in my mind. This experience has shaped my thoughts by allowing me to embrace the belief that my most important achievements in life will be the cultivation, refinement, and maintenance of “intangible” character qualities.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.