A friend told me several years ago that I had an exuberant personality.

I probably thanked him, then went on my way, believing that he had just paid me a compliment. Based on my definition, he had told me that I had a happy, outgoing personality.

Later, for some reason, I became curious about the dictionary definition

I didn’t like it: “Extreme or excessive in degree, size or extent.” I’ll take the example given -- “exuberant prosperity.” But we’re not talking prosperity here. We’re talking personality. Extreme personality? Excessive personality? Oh, no!

Well, I’m glad this dictionary gives you an option. I’ll take the second definition: “Joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic.” And I’ll take both examples provided -- “exuberant praise” and “exuberant personality?”

I’m writing on this topic today because I met two men last week who come pretty close to having a personality like mine. I’m not going to say they were “exuberant,” but they weren’t afraid to talk, to communicate.

I’ve written here before that I baffle some people when I run through my neighborhood. They don’t know what to do when I wave to them or say, “Hello.” Seriously. I get blank stares sometimes when I try to be friendly with a single hand motion or word.

But the two men I met Thursday, Feb. 11, talked. They communicated. I enjoyed it and I believe they did, too. I’m writing about those conversations today because I think we all received a benefit from our chance meetings.

Here’s what happened with the first.

I braved the snow Thursday morning to deliver my car for a service appointment at Lakeside Chevrolet in Rockwall. About 30 minutes after I arrived, a man walked into the customer waiting area. I’m not sure who spoke first, but after each greeted the other, it was on. Brad and I talked and talked and talked. He was like an old friend.

When I was told my car was ready, I didn’t leave. When he was told his car was ready, he didn’t leave immediately. But both of us had places to go and things to do, so we reluctantly parted ways.

I like to build relationships. I don’t know why, but that’s important to me. It’s just the way I’m made. I’m not saying that I want to build a friend-type relationship with everybody I meet, but I believe there are times when -- yes -- God brings certain people into your life for a reason.

I believe Brad and I both got what we needed in our conversation that Thursday morning.

“You’ve made my day,” Brad said as he left the customer waiting room.

“No. You’ve made my day,” I replied.

Conversation, simple conversation, encourages me. I had met somebody like me. I felt I had a new friend, but we talked like longtime friends.

I left there and, of course, I had to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart.

I grabbed a bunch of bananas and headed down the aisle. A man standing near a display of fresh flowers asked me if I knew anything about roses. I told him what I knew and it didn’t take long.

He then started asking questions? Do you buy your wife roses? Why not? What gifts do you buy for her? How long have you been married?

He not only wanted to ask me questions, he wanted to hear my answers.

I told him I usually didn’t buy my wife of 41 years flowers because she likes something more permanent. Roses are wonderful for a short time, then they’re gone. I usually don’t know what to buy wife Becky for Valentine’s Day or her birthday (the day after Valentine’s Day) until I see it.

I told him about the Christmas that Becky told me, “Jim, if you give me a rock for Christmas, I’ll be happy.” She wasn’t talking about a diamond. She was talking about a plain, old rock. I found some nice gifts to buy for her that Christmas, but I also gave her a gift-wrapped rock. Do you know what that meant to my wife? The nice gifts I bought for her are long forgotten, but she knows exactly where the rock is. It’s prominently displayed on a shelf in our home.

If you want to buy your wife a wonderful gift for Valentine’s Day, I told the man, look for something very special. Let your heart be your guide.

After I had answered all his questions, his wife walked up. I met her, had a brief conversation with her, then I walked away. Immediately, he excitedly started telling his wife everything I had told him. I stayed close enough so I could hear. And, yes, he told her everything.

I don’t usually smile while I shop, but I did that morning. I had just shared a part of my life with a stranger and it meant something to him. But it happened because he asked me a simple question. It sounds to me like I met another person with an exuberant personality.

I’m now at the end of this story and I’m asking myself a serious question. Why did I write about this topic today? Seriously.

I like to think that the thoughts I write about in my columns have an impact on a lot of people who read them all the way through. Today, though, I’m thinking this one is for me. And it’s a bonus, I guess, if someone else gains something from it.

So, here’s the message for me: Jim, be yourself, even when a few people may think you have an “over-the-top“ personality. Don’t force your personality on others, but be responsive when you meet people like Brad and the Wal-Mart man. God will bring people into your life every day. Be yourself. Watch. Listen. Yes, listen! Listening is an important part of communication -- even for someone with an exuberant personality.

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