Monday, April 13, 2020

Sincerity and Wax

Sincerity is something often lost....

A few years ago, I sat next to my stunning coworker.  Everyone noticed Sara's beauty, and various men would visit her quite often throughout the days. Sara and I talked for a moment about life and process improvement.  Throughout the conversation her shallow responses continued to surprise me until, June walked into the room.  Now, June wasn't someone people called “attractive,” even if God did give her an extra dose of kindness. Sara, ascertaining the "plainness," immediately looked at the woman and said, “That shirt looks fabulous on you!”

June glowed and thanked Sara. I was proud of Sara's kindness, but after June left, Sara snidely turned to me and said, “Didn’t she look terrible. I hate that shirt!”

Sincere, derived from the Latin, breaks into: sine (meaning without) and cera (meaning wax). It comes from a tradition of broken statues being repaired with wax, so perfections could be hidden and painted. To be without wax is to be real, to be original. People see what they get.

While having lunch with my family this Sunday, we talked about the Latin root of sincerity. My husband immediately said, “It’s not as beautiful as the statue analogy, but it makes me think of apples in the store. I once bought the reddest apple I could find, but when I bit into it, the inside had completely bruised. The only thing that made it look so wonderful, was the wax.”
My son also piped in. “Don’t they fix imperfections with gold in Japan? Broken bowls end up having gold streaks?” he asked.

“I think so,” I said because I’ve heard stories about such practices.

Wax could be when we try to fix ourselves, but gold is when God does.”

One of my oldest daughters smiled. “The statues that are worth the very most now aren’t the kind fixed with wax. They’re the kind with broken arms and missing pieces. People want to see what’s real, and what time did.”

I thought about the whole thing and called my writing mentor later that night. “I’ve heard this so much, but imperfections do make some things perfect. I’d much rather be sincere, than like that woman–full of flattery and fake compliments.”

She told stories of how some of the most influential people in her life have been the most sincere. “It’s because you can trust them,” she said.

I’ve thought about how I’ve written memoirs about my life, memoirs that have been like ripping open my chest, just to see what makes me tick. Some of the compliments and criticisms have  empowered me to continue sharing so I can heal along with others. The criticism has both helped and hurt. But each bit of feedback is something I can use as wax to fill holes I have from the things I’ve been through.

Not only has the study of sincerity–and the honesty of those around me–taught me about motives, it’s also encouraged me to set the wax and paint aside.

I might be more battered than people realize, but I’m still standing and that makes me worth far more than a cheap fix or something any amount of “repairs” can do.

Having interviewed many people for stories over the years, I just wanted to encourage others to set the wax aside. We’re amazing for our battle scars and all.

I’m proud of who I am. Because when people see my flaws maybe they’ll realize their scars make them more precious, too.

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