The following are five important lessons the pencil maker told the pencils before putting them into the box:
1) Everything you do will always leave a mark.
2) You can always correct the mistakes you make.
3) What is important is what is inside you.
4) In life, you will undergo painful sharpenings, which will only make you better.
5) To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be guided by the hand that holds you.
This parable encourages each of us to recognize that we are unique individuals with special God-given talents and abilities.
As a unique individual, I can only fulfill the purpose that God created me to do. I must never become discouraged and think that my life is insignificant and cannot be changed.
Like the pencil, I must always remember that the most important part of who I am is what is inside me. I have to be reminded that I must let go and allow myself to be guided by the hand of our loving God. If I do that, the Almighty will make sure that I am constantly being sharpened.
In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Polonius give this advice, “This above all: to thine own self be true” Our self-acceptance begins in infancy with the influence of our parents, siblings and other important people. Our own level of self-acceptance is determined largely by how well we feel these important people have accepted us.
Our attitude toward ourselves is determined largely by the attitudes that we think other people have toward us.
When we believe that other people think highly of us, our level of self-acceptance and self-esteem goes up. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.
God knows who we are and who we should be. We often wear masks that hide our true identity. Sometimes we even deceive ourselves and try to be somebody that we are not.
When we stop trying to be somebody else, then and only then can we be the loving persons God created us to be.
This is what our life is about: accepting the reality that God made us the way we are. God does not make junk. We are beautiful and gifted with a purpose in life. We need to accept ourselves just as we are. We might need some “sharpening.” Still, our starting point is where we are now.
Once we accept ourselves as we are, God says to us, “I know who you are. I will go with you.” Together we can make changes that we need in our lives. Because we know who we are, we have the confidence to walk with God looking for new possibilities.
Realizing that God works through other people, we will come to a deeper understanding of ourselves by opening up to another human being that we can completely trust.
To understand ourselves truly, or to stop being troubled by things that may have happened in our past, we need to reveal ourselves to at least one person.
The acceptance of that person will rid us of our guilt or shame and help us to see ourselves for who we are – a wounded healer.
We can develop higher levels of self-acceptance by taking a self-inventory. In doing this inventory, our job is to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.
Think of your unique talents and abilities. Think of your core skills, the things that you do exceptionally well that account for your success in your life right now.
Thank God for these gifts and ask the Holy One how you can use them to build God’s kingdom.
We must first accept who we are today, not who we hope we might be someday. That’s what God does.