God had to use a Thor-sized hammer to get this insight through to me.
Perhaps a hammer is the wrong image. It wasn't a single blow, more of 58 years of living finally spilling over the dam of my mind.
People consider me sweet. They call my books sweet. And for some reason, the characterization bothers me.
Perhaps I am too literal minded. I love "sweets," desserts of all kinds. When people say too much frosting makes a cake too sweet, I laugh. I LOVE the corner pieces with frosting on two sides as well as big flowers on top. I love to fill every hole of a waffle with syrup. The more sugar the better.
There are books like that, with so much sweetness and light that the layers of plot disappear under the heavy frosting. I guess my mind equates a "sweet" story with those that are "syrupy" and "saccharine."
So I did what I often do when stumped by the nuances of meaning of a word: I looked it up in an online dictionary. I discovered that in addition to defintions for "sweet," there are also meanings given for "sweet person." Aha! Just what I needed.
I found the first definitions on one of those answer sites. Six years ago, someone else was struggling with this same question. Someone else asked how to become a sweet person. Hmm, so I'm not the first person to ask what on earth does that mean?
One answer includes the downside, the reason I don't like being called sweet: someone who is sweet is easily manageable, who doesn't know how to stand up for herself. With my background of abuse, I refuse to accept that description. I also don't like to be called "soft spoken."
Other people gave lists of things sweet people don't do: wouldn't hurt a fly (or even think of hurting a fly); doesn't pass judgment or condemn; doesn't gossip or talk about people behind their backs; doesn't fight, threaten or intimidate. I actually have done a lot of those things. That explains why I don't see myself as sweet. I know all the bad things I still do.
The award for a humorous definition goes to the person who said a sweet person must be good-looking!
At last! The positive attributes that I can admit to: caring, genuine, thoughtful, compassionate, sympathetic.
This one makes me smile: "To become a sweet person requires inner strength. That is what we must first have in whatever situation, which can then help you to help others and achieve whatever you wish to achieve. You should have firm belief and optimism."
My favorite defintion says, "Someone with a big heart. Not someone to be run over, but simply someone who cares, and who is open to other caring persons."
My prayer is that whatever sweetness I possess goes beyond that.
I want to be open to people who don't return the favor, without becoming a doormat. I want to love them as Christ loves me. Unconditionally.
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