Monday, April 4, 2011


Sometimes I play this little game with myself: I try to narrow down a person's personality to one defining characteristic. Some people are so balanced in virtue that they make this game more difficult. And some people I don't know well enough to define. But I find that many people have a quality about them that sort of rises above the others- it encapsulates them fairly well.

About a year ago, I met a guy we'll call Max. Max has spent half of his life in and out of prison for various drug-related offenses. Max says prison saved his life. Max says prison was God's way of answering his prayers not to die.

He's been out for a few years now, is living clean and sober and working his 12 steps. In the course of those years while working the program, he met a woman he felt was clearly out of his league. They became friends. And their friendship turned into love. A couple of months ago, Max married this amazing, beautiful, positive woman who loves him despite his past. Despite his flaws. Despite his lack of a credit score or a bank account.

Max comes to church, and soaks up the teaching like a sponge. He is thirsty for it. He tries to put everything he learns into action.

He's open to advice -- he seeks it out, and then says, "Thank you for that. Thank you!"

Max likes to tell the people who invest in him how much he appreciates them. He lives like someone who wants to make up for lost time. He works his maintenance job with devotion under the assumption that he can help other people by doing good work. He can make a difference.

Max wants to take chances on people the way people have taken chances on him.

Max inspires me. He's absolutely great to be around. I can't help but think life is better when I see it from his perspective.

Clearly, his defining quality is gratitude.

I am learning that gratitude is a choice.
Choosing it makes life joyous, precious, full of meaning and purpose.

Being around Max makes me realize that I take too much for granted. Life is not always what you see, it's how you see it.

Choosing gratitude today.

Thank you for that, Max.
Thank you!


  1. I play this game too! It started when I had one staff member who personified fearlessness, or rather the willingness to act despite intense fear. Ever since then it's been fun to celebrate the uniqueness and strength in each one of them. It kind of makes me want to tell them what words they represent to me.

  2. "I am learning that gratitude is a choice.
    Choosing it makes life joyous, precious, full of meaning and purpose" - Amen and Amen!

    And, how to live in a world full of "Max's" - what a special heart he has!

    Loved this - thanks for posting, friend,


  3. do over:

    "And, OH to live in a world...."