Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
With eyes of gold and bramble dew,
Steel-true and blade-straight
The great artificer
Made my mate.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE MOST NOTICEABLE IMPACT ON US? No two people are exactly the same, of course, and there are many different kinds of influence, but I want to suggest that “vividness” is a quality that often distinguishes those who impact us from those who don’t. Their characters may come in a variety of “colors,” but they are never murky or muddy gray. They are vivid.

“Vivid” is one of many words that come from the Latin vivere (“to live”). In its most literal sense, to be “vivid” is to be “alive.” Just for curiosity, let’s take three of the basic meanings of “vividness,” as outlined in the American Heritage Dictionary, and see how these meanings might apply, figuratively, to a person’s character.

“Perceived as bright and distinct; brilliant.” Vivid people are sharply etched and delightfully distinguished. They’ve chosen to live their lives with bright excellence, rather than dull, gray mediocrity.

“Full of the vigor and freshness of immediate experience.” Vivid people don’t just think about life; they interact with it. And they bring to their relationships the “freshness of immediate experience.”

“Evoking lifelike images within the mind; heard, seen, or felt as if real.” Vivid people, like a vivid painting, inspire images and visions in the minds of others that are vibrant with life as it really and truly is.

So what’s our conclusion here? That all of us need to have “lively” or “outgoing” personalities? No, definitely not. The point, rather, is that whatever distinctive characteristics each of us may possess, we need to live our own characteristics vividly. Whatever we are, we need to be what we are, resisting the temptation either to shrink back from life or to try to be what we are and what everybody else is at the same time. The choice should be made carefully, but it should be made decisively: who are we going to be? Then, having chosen our colors, we need to engage life with all the heart of a person who is . . . alive.

“God does not ask for the dull, weak, sleepy acquiescence of indolence. He asks for something vivid and strong” (Amy Carmichael).

Gary Henry — +

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