To be honest, I have talked too much today about the recent flooding of our home. (I promise to share details at another time.) So, rather than discuss about how much water was in the house and when the insurance adjuster will arrive, I will share an insight that came to me this afternoon as I was washing dishes.
This isn’t our first experience with a flooded home. Each time we have dealt with unwanted water, I have learned new lessons. I am pretty much an expert at knowing what to expect from a flood and how to clean up afterwards – skills not many folks want. So, when I opened our china cabinet this afternoon, I was not surprised to find dirty water in bowls and cups designed for fine dining. At the moment, we don’t have hot water in the kitchen, so today’s dish washing chore is the first of a two-step process. These same dishes will need to be washed again before they are put away for a future use. But, for today, cold water, lots of dish washing detergent, some bleach and a soft cloth will get our china clean enough to be left on the kitchen counter.
It was the first stack of dishes that caught my attention. This was “my” china; I bought it long before John and I had met and picked out “our” pattern. My china is white with a fine silver line and a white on white pattern around the edge. I really like these dishes. The white field and pattern go with just about anything. And, I have never had a problem with putting this tableware right into the dishwasher.
The funny thing about this particular china is that when you turn a dish over, the notations on the bottom say “Montgomery Ward. Fine China.” OK, I can hear some of your laughing. “Montgomery Ward” and “Fine China” may seem to be incongruent. Let me share some history.
I was in high school when I found the pattern and I loved it immediately. When it went on sale, I knew that the time was right and I made plans to go to the store and to pick it out. My then boyfriend wanted to tag along and I quickly squashed that idea. It didn’t feel right for him to be there. (I should have realized then that our relationship wasn’t ever going to get to the “buying china together” stage.) I really wanted to go and to purchase the set of china and bring it home.
This china has been with me in every home that I have ever owned or rented. A variety of accessories have sat next to it on my tables – from paper napkins to sterling silver flatware and crystal classes and goblets. Admirals, family members, friends, and newcomers to our church have all eaten food served on this china. It seems like no matter where I have gone or what kind of a dinner party I was hosting, this china stood the test. And, it proudly bears the name of “Montgomery Ward.”
Just like this simple china, I think that there are core values which will stand the test of time. These traits don’t demand attention, are low maintenance, come without a fancy pedigree or costly price, and remain humbly in the background, keeping us on track and serving us so very well. Let’s look at some examples.
1. Integrity. It is a simple thing: let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” Proverbs 11:3 puts it well: “The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.”
2. Perseverance. Sometimes just keeping on keeping on is enough. I believe that we should strive to be known for finishing a task. “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” (Winston Churchill)
3. Work ethic. Proverbs 14:23 says “Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table.” I love it – hard work ALWAYS PAYS OFF!!
4. Respect. What we value we respect. If we recognize all people as children of God, we will care about them and care for them. Being respectful, recognizing the worth in the world around us is a way of life.
5. Humor. Erma Bombeck said that “He who laughs, lasts.” Having a positive outlook on life with all of its challenges helps us keep the good and the not-so-good in balance.
6. Service. What a blessing it is to meet those who have the true hearts of a servant. Rotarians say it best with their motto, “Service above self.”
7. Vision. Keep your head up. By focusing on where we are going, rather than dwelling only on the task at hand, we understand and appreciate the importance of our labor.
So, what traits have stood the test of time in your life? Have you thought about how important they are to you and to those you love?
Too often, we forget that our character is the most important factor in achieving our goals. It is true that talent, networking, academic achievement, and timing can all be helpful; but, character is king!!!