This week at school one of my students had an epic meltdown. I’m talking screaming, crying, stomping, alligator tear filled tantrum, near the end of second grade. If you were walking by my classroom, you would have thought a horrible tragedy had just occurred. In reality, it was all over an eraser. A little pink eraser that you put on the end of a pencil when the standard, factory eraser wears out but your pencil is still long enough to sharpen. Not a fancy character eraser, not even a fun, brightly colored eraser, just a little pink eraser. This student, whom I love dearly, stomped and screamed around the room for much longer than any of us could stand at this point in the year. My student kept yelling, “this is not fair! I want an eraser! I need an eraser! Why do they get an eraser? You must not love me. This. Is. Not. Fair!”
After deescalating the situation, I sat and talked with the student. And in my response, it happened – I became my mother. “You’re right. It’s not fair. But turns out, life’s not fair,” I said. Right out of the Adrienne Jean Steinocher script. But unlike when I myself was a tantrum-throwing child, it clicked more today than ever.
You see, this student had a perfectly good pencil. Dare I say it was even new, past the one hundredth day of school which seems as rare as a Loch Ness Monster sighting. The eraser, pristine. The student who got the little pink eraser, their pencil inched closer and closer to death with each stroke of the graphite. The eraser, gone. They needed an eraser. My small tantrum-throwing friend did not need an eraser. They just wanted an eraser. And when they did not get one, they threw a fit.
How often do I throw my own flailing “life’s not fair, I want an eraser” fit at God? You know, the God who knows my every thought and formed me in my mother’s womb, that God. How often do I, a grown adult, want life to be fair? It’s not fair that my circumstances aren’t like their circumstances. It’s not fair that they get what I want. It’s not fair that I’m stuck doing this and they get to do that. It’s not fair they get to travel here or do that job, when I don’t.
Now, I’m all for laying it out to God. Our conversations reflect the open dialogue I believe He desires. I pour out how I feel without holding much if anything back. I think God appreciates me doing that. I value not feeling the need to sugar coat anything in my relationship with Christ. I mean, He already knows my every thought. Heck, when Jesus cries out to God on the Mount of Olives He sweat drops of blood. That’s way more intense than anything I ever experienced. I believe God values our honesty.
Sometimes I have a perfectly good pencil and I pitch a fit because I want a pink eraser. I go all Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on God because I want something and I want it now. But God knows better. He knows the pencil eraser combination I have reflects the exact combination I need. Despite me still learning that even when life does not look like I think it should, it is good and right. God uses my life to bring glory to His Kingdom.
If my life was what I wanted, it would not tell the story God desires to write. It would be shallow, underdeveloped and less complex. But the story God writes with each of our lives – it contains drama, mystery, suspense, humor and unpredictable plot twists. The story God writes with each of our lives goes far beyond one individual. No matter what your circumstance, fair or not, eraser or no eraser – your story holds eternal significance. Stop pining for what you think life should look like and go live the life you have for the glory of God’s kingdom.