Surprise Ego Strokes

“Okay, do you want a softcover or a hardback?” I asked, flattered the woman wanted to buy my book. But I wasn’t expecting the impact of her answer.

“A hardback! I want to keep it.”

Suddenly, my emotions soared higher than the happiness that another person was buying my book. This woman had stroked my ego beyond her awareness. To tell me she wanted my book was one thing. Desiring it in a hardback propelled the sale to another sphere. I had not yet written my blog post “Durable by Design“; so there was no way she knew of my enduring love relationship with the hardback. However, Someone did know, and that Someone had used this woman as a conduit to tell me I was not the only one who preferred a hardback and that I had not been wrong to pay for its inclusion in my self-publishing package.  I knew it and He knew it.

He stroked my ego again on a recent Sunday morning when I stepped out of the garage in a red suit and matching hat. Yes, I wear a hat to church even though I am the only one. I am not trying to make a statement other than I love hats. My mother did and my daughter does and my granddaughters do. So maybe it’s genetic. Regardless, let me miss a few Sundays without one and I’ll hear a church member say, “Judy, where is your hat?” or “Judy, I miss your hat.” Once a man asked my husband, “Is your wife wearing a hat today?” Hearing an affirmative answer, the man declared, “All is well with the world.”

My own world improved while standing in front of the garage that Sunday after I lightheartedly called to my neighbor, “You’re doing such a good job washing your car, when you finish, you can do ours.”

“Oh, Mrs. Simon,” he grinned, “you’re beautiful!”

His comment unintentionally stroked my ego on three ascending levels. First, a female inherently likes to hear she is beautiful. Second, the eyes of a man young enough to be my son assessed me as beautiful. Third, he gently salved a childhood wound from my dysfunctional father-daughter relationship.

Was that why I never heard him say I was pretty?

He often said it of my curly blond-headed sister. I was eleven years older and I wasn’t jealous, but I wanted to hear him say it of me too. Wasn’t it natural for fathers to think all their daughters were pretty?

I hated the mirror’s reflection when I was a teenager, and I avoided it as much as possible. Yes, I was thankful God had blessed my face with not a pimple. For my part I was doing the best I knew how with my straight, limp brown hair and the sample of Tangee lipstick.

And there were times when I thought the end product wasn’t any worse than what I saw on some of my peers. But no matter how hard I tried, I never heard the stamp of approval ‘pretty.’ (Before the Door Closes, pp. 53-54)

“Beautiful” is better than “pretty,” my heart responded to the neighbor’s compliment.  He and the book purchaser had unwittingly traversed hidden passages in my life’s labyrinth. Their spontaneity had stroked my ego, but they could never understand what it  had meant to my emotional well-being.

“You’ll never know what that means to me,” a fresh friend emailed. No, I wouldn’t. All I did was give her a couple of magazines and suggest she look them over as a place to submit her writing.

Haven’t you, too, had the mysterious moment of  “You’ll never know what that means to me,” whether your lips sent it or your ears received it? Did you, like me, feel the event was orchestrated by Someone outside yourself? Someone who knows our secrets and the needs they conjure? Someone who tenderly touches them?

“God Moves in a Mysterious Way” was written by William Cowper, a contemporary of John Newton (composer of “Amazing Grace”). If anyone can identify the soloist, I would appreciate the information.

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