Pauline’s Present

Pauline was a joy. I met her just after college graduation. She worked in the tiny cubicle kitty-corner to mine at the insurance agency. I was a summer temp. She was a long-term employee in the Fire Claims department.

Pauline and I technically didn’t work together, but because of the proximity of our desks, we often chatted. With her bright smile and sing-song voice, she told me story after story. When Pauline laughed, it was with her whole body, head back and teeth exposed.

However, not everyone saw this happy side of Pauline. She never ate lunch with us and took breaks at her desk. We never talked about that, but I know she was lonely.

You see, Pauline wasn’t pretty. She was hunchbacked and covered in moles. Her mouth was a bit crooked, several of her teeth were missing and the rest were crooked, and her hair was wiry gray. She wore plain cotton tops and pants, and when she spoke it was a bit too loud for the subdued office environment around us.

I was often in trouble for talking to Pauline.

But she was a delight to me. As an extrovert, my job as a typist was tedious and boring. Pauline’s exuberant personality and tall tales passed the long indoor work hours of summer more quickly.

On my last day of work that summer, I found a gift on my desk. It was a large 16×20 mounted, framed, and hand-stitched piece of artwork. The well-known “Footprints” saying was printed on it, and on the back a simple autograph from Pauline.

As I stared at the beautiful, meaningful gift, tears filled my eyes. I knew she must have worked on it most of the summer, which meant she’d started it even before she really knew me.

Even more, it revealed our common faith. She trusted the Lord too. Her time and thoughtfulness still overwhelm me.

I had always been told not to judge a book by its cover, but no one really told me what treasure I would find if I did just that. Maybe Pauline was glad to have someone hear her stories that summer, but the real present was mine.

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”
 Isaiah 53:2-3

How often have I missed God’s love because it was delivered in a package I didn’t want to accept?

God draw me near and open my eyes and heart to see Your beauty.

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