As a child a new fresh box of crayons was like winning the gold star of the day for me. The smell of the new crayons as I would pry open the box to reveal the perfect point of each vibrantly colored prize- this perfection made my heart soar. When a box of new crayons had one break – I would discard it. When the paper would become tattered I would throw the crayon over in a tin where I hid away all the broken and imperfect ones. This tin was full of broken colors as a symbol for me to let perfection reign and do away with the imperfect. Looking back I now see just how much of a perfectionist I was even as a small child. That box of new crayons was a representation of perfection. No flaws – just sheer excellence.
Life is not about perfection, or being perfect. For those who are perfectionist like me, you understand this is a day to day battle. As a Christian I even found myself believing God wanted perfection out of me. The more I did the better He loved me; or so I thought. I believed He wanted me to be perfect in all areas of my life. But I was wrong.
One day I was scrolling Pinterest and found this picture.
Wow! There is a strong and varied lesson in these few short words. One lesson teaches us no matter what failures have been in our life – we still work. Just because our past has been broken does not mean we cannot color out a better future.
I felt the Holy Spirit was showing me through those four words my distorted picture of needing to be perfect. God reminded me of that tin I had of broken pieces of crayons and crayons in perfectly good condition, except for the paper torn off. What could this possibly mean, why was this important? Because for me I did away with those things which were not perfect. For me looking perfect was important, not having flaws was important. I needed to be a better Christian; with no flaws, a better wife; with no flaws, a better daughter; with no flaws, a better mother; with no flaws, and on goes the list.
I always measure my day by what I have accomplished and whether or not my whole list was done. If the whole list was not done I had failed. I always want my body to look a certain way and if it does not I have failed. I want my children to behave a certain way and when they do not I have failed. I have lived this way as long as I can remember, BUT GOD!!!
God is showing me how to be a recovering perfectionist. As a perfectionist the attitude of – if it is to be it’s up to me, will prevail. You begin to feel only you can do it and do it right. You must be the one to juggle, and not just juggle – but it is far better to juggle while riding a bike across a tight rope, oh yea with fire underneath, and darts coming at you, and …… well… you get the picture. As a perfectionist the harder the task the bigger the trophy when you get it all done. Sadly you may accomplish some great feat, however, as a perfectionist you are not satisfied really. That few second swell of pride quickly goes away as you focus on all that has not been done yet.
God wants our life to reflect Him, and yes He is perfect, but He does not expect us to be. He expects us to lean on Him. A perfectionist feels they must do the task to make sure it is correct. To lean on someone else would not bring about the perfect results we desire. But God is showing me that leaning on Him and allowing Him to take over is exactly what I need.
For me the lesson of Broken Crayons Still Color means I can still color in the lines of my day to day life with a crayon that is not perfect. One which does not even have a perfect tip on it and whose paper may be torn. That imperfect crayon is one which will work. It does not look perfect on the outside but it does the job perfectly.
As I think of that tin of thrown away crayons I wish I had it now to remind me daily to lean on God and not strive for perfection; instead to strive after my Heavenly Father. God uses every single crayon in the box and guess what – even those in the tin.