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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Taylor

The Problem with Erasers

My husband of thirty years told me a story the other day that he had never told me before. That in itself is noteworthy, but the actual story was fascinating for me as well. It spoke of a 'law' Stu had been taught early in his life that had guided his heart down some rough roads. He said I could share it.

It all began in a little elementary school in Pasadena, Texas. His rival was a smart boy, full of thick hair and quick comebacks. What would it be like to be him?

This sage shared his 7 year-old wisdom one day by asking Stu a question. "What do you notice about my pencil that is unlike any other pencils in this classroom?" Stu looked closely - he did not want to be stumped by the one he looked up to. "Wellllll, the pencil is short. It's almost used up," he replied. "Yep, that's part of it," said the Sage, "but look at the top." Pointing to his eraser, he smugly went on, "See that? It's never been used. I'm so smart that I NEVER make mistakes."

Ohhhhh, that's the answer to life's question - never, under any circumstance, make a mistake.

Perfection is the goal and Perfect Performance would help Stu rise to the top. Easy enough.

He began the eraser quest...but, it soon became evident this was not as easy as it sounded. He began to use one pencil to write with, while keeping a secret pencil in his pencil holder for using the eraser. It's funny how we learn to cover up so early in life.

After several days, Stu came up with a creative plan. He would keep sharpening his pencil until it was down to a nub, then share it proudly with the others, without ever having really used it.There's always more than one way to skin a cat. (using the Southern metaphor without really wanting to 'skin' a cat.)

This was just the beginning...perfection has a way of making small lies pop out of our mouths before we even know they are there.

This 'law of perfection' motivated him, defeated him, motivated him, then defeated him until finally in his 50's, Stu hollered 'uncle'. It's amazing how long we can hold onto something subconsciously without understanding why we let it beat us to a pulp. He's a much happier person today, living the life of forgiveness and grace. There was only One Person who was ever meant to be perfect, and that Person is so patient with us all.

Maybe there are some old 'laws' within you?

Buried deep by some harmless effort to survive at the time, it is now definitely not helping. You notice it because it's getting between you and relationships that matter. When you figure out what it is, take it through the sharpener. Grind it down and see if it really fits. If it's not helping you anymore, no matter what human sage told you about it, throw it out with the rest of the shavings.

Do you remember the moment as a child when you would get a shiny, new pencil sharpened with that friendly 'wood-smell' and that beautiful black point?

It's just like that.

You're a sharp person - you can write your own story.

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