This article was published in the Spring 2018 CHOIS Magazine on page 26-27
Each day as we wrap up school I take a moment to return our table from desk back to gathering place. I stack books, collect papers and brush up the eraser dust from the day’s lessons.
Eraser dust. Everywhere.
From the small eraser at the end of the pencils that fail to be enough, to the eraser caps we buy by the dozens, to the ‘big guys’ that can handle the jobs the others can’t, erasers are always made available… but are often forgotten.
As I finish tiding up, I glance over to the stack of papers and sigh.
How am I supposed to find an answer there, among the chicken scratches and the tally marks and the crossed- out mistakes?
“Can’t you use scratch paper for that?”
“How am I supposed to read that?”
“Use your eraser!!!”
Every. Single. Day.
And I ponder.
My life is much like that little child working so hard on their paper to get it right, to make it neat, only to find the more frustrated they get, the harder they push and the darker the mark left on the paper.
And the gentle reminder comes in a whisper. “The eraser, use the eraser.”
In the midst of the mess is where I find The Great Eraser; the only One that can clean it all up.
I hear the promise given: He will ‘wash me thoroughly from my iniquity’ (psalm 51:2).
Somehow He can find the good among all my mess-ups. He can see through my chicken scratches and my ‘try-agains,’ right into my heart. And He goes to work, erasing all the ugly, until eventually, only the beautiful remains.
My words ring out:
“Keep your letters in the lines.”
“Keep your lead in the bubbles.”
“Don’t mark up your page.”
“Make it nice. Make it clean.”
But the truth is, it’s not always clean. Most often it’s messy, because when we are working out our problems, we need to do just that: work them out.
And that leaves marks, smudges and eraser dust.
Because this is real life. These are real children and this is real learning.
Because I am a real mom.
Jesus told us to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12) and often times the process can look messy, but we work it out each day anew in full confidence and knowledge that our mistakes will be erased and all that will remain is the beauty created in His image.
As we work things out, be it simple math problems or real life troubles, the eraser doesn’t sit next to us mocking, awaiting a mistake, jeering.
It does not create a fear of failure or produce anxiety from the possibility of having to use it.
Rather, it gives the freedom to write, draw and create. To live fully. It brings security to try and try again.
There is a peace that comes in knowing the erasers very purpose is for me to be free to ‘work it out.’
The eraser gives us a hope and confidence to move forward.
And the eraser itself? As our mistakes are transferred onto it, the shiny new pink begins to grey, bearing those mistakes, becoming blemished in order to make our page clean.
And yet, it doesn’t stop erasing.
Sometimes I try to see beyond the eraser marks on my child’s paper, to get a gimps of how they arrived at the solution. I search, but it is so faint. Often, all I can see is the final answer; the finished problem.
And so it is for my life. Most of my mistakes can be erased and forgotten entirely, never to be seen again. Others remain ever so slight; a small smudge, a lesson learned.
And then there are those that leave holes in the paper; the mistakes so deep that they cannot be forgotten. Those will be patched for now and in the end all will be made new.
At the end of the day, as I wipe up the mess I am thankful.
Thankful for the journey with these little souls. Thankful that love is abundant, grace overflows and erasers will always be plentiful.
Thankful that when all the eraser dust settles, the Masterpiece will be seen.