One of my favorite children stories growing up was the book by Max Lucado, "You are Special."
(For anyone who doesn't know this story, I suggest you read it. This is a spoiler alert. So, if you would prefer to go read this story first, do it!)
The synopsis of the story is this: There is a little wooden town with a bunch of little wooden people called Wimmicks. No Wimmick were the same, and they each had their own box of stickers. The stickers were either gold stars, or grey dots. Everyday, these Wimmicks would give out these stickers and stick them to each other. If a Wimmick was tall, beautiful, a good singer, an athlete, a performer, smart, or anything deemed as positive and/or desirable, that Wimmick would receive gold stars. On the other hand, those who may be small, too round, have scratched up wood, if they tripped, or if they made mistakes, would receive grey dots.
No one wanted the grey dots.
The main character of the story is a Wimmick named Punchinello. He is clumsy, he is unpopular, and he always (unintentionally) made mistakes. Pretty soon, he had received so many grey dots that he allowed those dots to become his identity. He was known as the grey dotted Wimmick who didn't do anything right.
Naturally, he began to believe it.
Then one day, he meets a Wimmick name Lucinda, and she is unlike any other Wimmick he has ever met. What made her different? She didn't have any stickers. Neither gold stars or grey dots. And the craziest part of it was, it was because the stickers couldn't stick to her.
Of course, he becomes curious, and asks what it was that made that possible. She answered, "Everyday, I go up the hill and visit Eli." Punchinello had no idea who Eli was, but he decides to go and visit him.
The little puppet goes up the hill one day to Eli's home, and he goes in. Eli knows him by name, and he is so excited to see him! When Punchinello asks, "How do you know me?" Eli response is, "I know you because I made you."
They talk for a little while, and Eli tells Punchinello the secret. He said, "The only way the stickers will stick is if you will let them. When you care about what everyone thinks about you, the stickers will stick on. The stickers will cease to stick once you decide that what I think is more important than what they think. And I think that you are special." (Summary of the actual dialogue.)
They have their conversation, and then Punchinello gets up to leave. As he is walking out the door, the master creator calls out, "Remember, you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."
The story ends with Punchinello thinking to himself, "I think that he really means it." And when he does so, one of the grey dots fall off of him.
Perspective is an interesting concept. Because human perspective, I believe, is never fully true.
I've done a lot of speculating this year, and I realized... I have a lot of stickers.
I may have lots of gold stars: I'm a blogger, I'm well known, I've written articles, I've spoken at events, I've been interviewed. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from people. Which is nice...
But I also have a lot of grey dots, most of which comes from myself; the feelings of sadness that I beat myself down about, or when I get frustrated that things are not going the way that I want it. Maybe it's because I don't feel that I deserve blessings, due to my lack of faith in one thing or another. A LOT of internal black dots.
Sometimes, I feel absolutely covered. It's suffocating. So many stickers.
I don't want grey dots. I don't want gold stars.
I just want to be clean.
And that kind of cleanliness can and will only come when things are accepted. When I accept myself as I am, when I accept that what happened happened, and when I realize that other things are going to happen and that's how life is. And it's not because Heavenly Father doesn't love me, or wants to push me to a limit.
It's because he is the ultimate strategist.
It happens when the Atonement is accepted, fully and completely. Sometimes, that's hard. Sometimes, it's REALLY HARD to accept the Atonement. I don't know why we do it to ourselves. Maybe we think we are better than that, or that we don't deserve it.
I think it's mainly because we simply don't understand it. Not in its entirety. And as people, it's hard to accept things when it's not fully understood.
Again, that's where faith comes in.
Sometimes, I just need that little reminder that it's ok to be broken. We have to be broken so that we can be fixed, and made into something greater. And that being broken does not mean that you are weak. It means that you're human, and you hurt.
And being hurt takes a lot of strength. Being hurt takes a lot of love.
I can't begin imagine the amount of love Christ had, being in Gethsemane, then the cross, to hurt as much as he did.
I wonder if He ever felt like he had stickers. Stars or dots. But, then again, I don't think so.
I think he was like Lucinda.
In fact, that makes perfect sense.
He was perfect and clean.
But at that moment in his life, he took on everybody else's gold stars and grey dots. It must have been suffocating.
Yet, he is the reason that the stickers can fall off.
He did it because we are special. He loves us.
And he doesn't make mistakes.