I was in the store today with my lovely step-mom and sister Amber, I was looking for a table cloth and place mats, and I was having a difficult time deciding on the colors I wanted. Now, I've never picked a table cloth out before and in my mind it would define something about our lives, so I wanted to choose the best color combination.
The deciding process was starting to take too long, and I thought of the following story, then I was able to make a choice more quickly. The table cloth is brown, and the matts are green :-)
The following story is from a blog that I had recently stumbled across, it's called (In) Courage and I love to read it! It's run by around 27 woman, and they write such amazing things on a variety of topics. The things shared on this blog, I think, everyone can relate to on some level.
This is the first of the stories I've read, and the one I thought of today:
She wanted the pencils, I could tell she did. Her daddy sat with her on the too-small chair in the child section of the bookstore. I watched them with stranger's eyes, slowly browsing a shelf nearby. She was deciding between a small, educational activity book or a set of beautiful princess pencils. She held the book in one hand, the pencils in the other, and quietly asked her daddy which one he thought she should choose.
He repeatedly told her it was her decision to make, she could choose either one. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth than he was giving her a list of pros and cons about each potential choice:
The pencils are pretty, but the activity book might last longer.
The pencils have to be sharpened and then they get smaller and smaller and eventually disappear.
The activity book has pages and pages of endless fun.
“But the choice is yours to make,” he was sure to add on to the end.
I smiled to myself as I noticed the father's inability to remain uninvolved in her decision. It was obvious to me which she would choose after his comments. What five year old would choose the pretty pencils after Daddy clearly explained how impractical they were?
I missed what happened next as my own daughter came up to me with several copies of the same board book and I realized she was rearranging the entire board book section. I was glad for the distraction as it helped me maintain my cover.
When I looked up again, the man and his daughter stood to leave. As they passed me by, I noticed her satisfied expression and the pack of princess pencils in her small hand.
I'm embarrassed to admit how surprised I was. In that moment, I realized that no matter how much I wanted them, I never would have chosen the pencils. As a kid, I was too concerned about making the "right" choice, the choice that would please the most people. I did not give myself permission to make the fun choice when the outcome didn't matter.
I still do that a lot. I weigh, I consider, I balance, I reconsider. I obsess over what they would do, what he will think, or what she thinks I should decide. It is easy to blame it on responsibility or grown up-ness or consequences. Or to claim it as wisdom and experience.
But I think it has more to do with fear.
Watching that small, brave girl choose the pencils that day, it was as if a cloud of worry and longing to please was lifted from me. Life rose up to meet me right there in the bookstore.
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10
What did you think? I would have wanted the pencils, but probably gone with the activity book, and now I'm curious: Would you have chosen the pencils?