Character is developed not by the things that happen to us, but by what we do with the things that happen to us. It’s what we take from our circumstances, and how we use what we experience to benefit ourselves and others that reveal our character.
Building a Noble Character
In a great cathedral in Europe, there is a window made by an apprentice out of the bits of stained glass that were thrown away as worthless refuse when the other windows were made; this is the most beautiful window of all. You can build a noble character for yourself, in spite of all the hurts and injuries done consciously or unconsciously by others, with the fragments of the broken hopes, joys and the lost opportunities that lie strewn about your feet. No matter how badly others have hurt and marred you, they cannot prevent you from building a beautiful character for yourself; conversely, others by their best work cannot cause you to build a beautiful character. The fine character of your father or mother is not yours; you’ve got to build your own.
This little story has a message that’s very powerful. The more you read it and think about it the more profound it becomes.
Good Deeds Performed Unconsciously
A farmer goes to market to purchase grain. He puts the bags containing it into his wagon, and drives slowly home. As the wagon jolts over the stony road, one of the bags becomes untied, and the grain is scattered along the way. The birds catch some of the grain and fly off with it, and drop it in distant places. Some is blown in different directions by the winds. Thus the farmer goes on for miles, without knowing what he is doing; but the next summer finds the scattered seed. It starts and grows, and when he sees his own grain he does not know it. He did not even know that he lost it. And so it is with good deeds. Men often perform them unconsciously, and they bear fruit, and when they see that fruit they do not know that it is the result of anything they have done.