Life is about using the whole box of crayons

For real?   Like all 96?  How is that even possible, and why would anyone want to use bittersweet, burnt sienna or chestnut?

I am drawn to crayons… especially large boxes of brand new crayons.  When I was a child I recall frequently dreaming I had received a new box of crayons and waking up in complete disappointment upon realizing my new box of crayons was only an illusion.

A sign in my office reads, “Life is about using the whole box of crayons”,  I was drawn to this sign when I purchased it without fully understanding why.  I’m that girl who will try anything once, and why would anyone tell me not to?  I related this to using the whole box of crayons…. In a rebellious sense… perhaps trying to justify the fact that I hadn’t refined or polished any one specific part of my life but found myself feeling spread all over the color spectrum as my mind jumped from squirrel to squirrel.  It felt like the quote described me and was maybe even an excuse for the many things I had started and not finished or tried and failed at.

Today, as I discovered my eyes resting on this sign while staring off into space, a new meaning popped into my head.

What if God sent us here with a whole box of crayons… similar to an entire package of seedlings…. It feels like he wants us to grow and develop all of them.  While un-used, perfectly sharpened crayons bring me shear joy to look at, I really don’t think God wanted us to return our crayons unused. 

I pulled my box of 96 crayons off the shelf and allowed my mind to wander as I looked at them.  There are a few colors I use frequently and have worn the tip off of, yet others remain untouched.  Am I using my whole box of crayons?  There are 84 colors that have never been used here Jackie. 

Do I find myself thinking “this is just who I am”, “I’m good at this, but I’ll never be good at that”, or “I was born like this, it’s just who I am…. It runs in my family”.  I’m pretty sure God is good at everything.  I think it’s fair to say He is well rounded, balanced and is eager to stretch himself in every direction.  I imagine He would encourage us to do the same, which means, He probably would love to see us use every crayon in the box. 

Are we afraid to open the box?  Are we scared to play, get messy, create… worried about breaking a crayon, messing up, feeling the emotions that come with stepping outside our comfort zone?  Are we so worried about what others will think of our coloring that we are paralyzed and refuse to even pull the crayon out of the box? 

When my kids were young we had a large box of crayons… not the cute Crayola box with the crisp edges and the happy purple crayon on the front, no, it was an old ratty, plastic container.  The crayons inside were well worn, labels peeled off, tips that had turned into dull nubs, some so short you could barely grasp them and others broken into many pieces.  Oh, but the artwork they created was exquisite… at least to me… as I watched my children color without regard to staying in the lines or “messing up”. 

I wish I had saved that ratty old box of worn crayons…. It was a symbol of faith, rather than fear.  It was a sign that as children we aren’t afraid to pull out the entire contents of ourselves and be free.  It was a demonstration of exploration and discovery vs. the paralysis and stagnancy that is a result of comparison, denial, or perfectionism.

Looking inward has been like opening my very own box of crayons.  It’s been accepting that I cannot leave any of them unused, not even burnt sienna.  It has felt like pulling what appeared to be a blue crayon out of the box only to discover it was really grey.  This process of uncovering, feeling, choosing to stay, learning who I am, discovering my purpose, trusting myself and loving myself feels similar to “using the whole box of crayons”.

I look back on all the times I’ve colored out of the lines, broken crayons, lost crayons, used the wrong color or used the same crayon until it is a dull nub…. And as I learn to sit in the questions, deciphering between the ever-changing truth and illusion about myself, and about life, I realize, everyone’s perspective is different, mistakes are only mistakes if nothing was gained from them.  Accidents are only tragic if nothing was learned.  Trials are only nightmares if we lose sight of the purifying effect they have on us. 

I’m learning to embrace and have gratitude for every one of these 96 crayons.  Every one of them represents an emotion, skill, trial or talent, and as I continually peel back the paper and sharpen each one over and over and over, eventually I will become as wise as that well worn, ratty box of crayons used by a child before fear was introduced into their life.

As Deborah Adele states, when you leave the house each day, rather than moving from a place of fear and rigidity, striving to “be careFUL”, what if we align our will with the Divine, seeking expansion, trusting fully, opening to the adventure of life,  and “be careFREE”?……  use the whole box of crayons for heavens sake!