This week, my son asked my daughter if he could borrow one of her pencils. Not just any pencil but a mechanical pencil from her arsenal of coveted writing utensils that she purchased with her own money. This resulted in a narrowing of the eyes and a sharp breath. Dead silence.
Then, the slow release of an exhale followed by one simple syllable: No. Crestfallen, my son’s eyes welled. The pleading ensued; matched by equally convincing stonewalling.
In steps Switzerland (aka: mom). I prompted them to consider that, in every moment, we are building character habits. It’s not enough to want to be someone who shares freely – we must actually do it even when its hard. It’s not enough to want to be resilient – we must actually persevere even when we feel defeated. It’s never about the mechanical pencil.
What is your mechanical pencil? Is there something or someone you covet so strongly that you compromise your character for it? Your “something” might be the need to be right (ouch), the need for control, or even your fear of failure. Or, it might be as simple as an ego-feed object (think designer boots, luxury cars, big homes). It could even be stress. What?
If you find yourself talking about how busy you always are or how crazy your schedule is (this conversation is always concluded with a sigh), then perhaps you are addicted to your story of stress. And this is your mechanical pencil.
Let me explain. If the qualities you desire to envelope your life are peace & joy, this story of stress is competing against your character. What are you choosing? Just look at what you are talking about. Are you talking about how you are creating more peace and joy or how crazy your life is?
If you desire to live a life blanketed in your faith, do your actions and words line up? If you desire to make a difference in the lives of kids & your gift is writing, are you writing that children’s book or is fear holding you back?
Our modern world loves to distract us, and we all have our personal Goliaths lurking everywhere. Instead of blindfolding ourselves in their presence, conceding to their strength based on their intimidating size, or worse yet, befriending them, can we all see that the choice we make in these moments have a compounding result? That it is more than a decision about a mechanical pencil – it is a choice of character.
How did the pencil story end? I’d like to say she had her own AHA after my profound guidance. But alas, no. She promptly opened our junk drawer, pulled out a nub of a #2 pencil with broken lead & no eraser, handed it to her brother, and walked out of the room. Better than nothing, but not exactly what my motherly idealism hoped for. And in this moment, I get choose: My parenting “value” of believing in my kids to create their own learning as they are ready or my need to control. What will I choose? And what will you choose when it counts?