I guess it was somewhere toward the end of elementary school when it happened. Pencils were no longer cool to write with. Teachers WANTED final copies of important assignments done in ink and pencils were regulated to math only.
Even the plain black and ordinary blue inks seemed vibrant next to the dull graphite on the page. As a girl, I loved the gel pens of every imaginable color and even now, I find myself drawn to their beautiful colors and bright packaging.
However, in the last few months something has changed. The pendulum has swung back to the good old number 2s. I have found that the old, standby is incredibly valuable to me and my sanity. It has been a gradual and unintentional shift, but I have definitely made a change.
Instead of reaching for my favorite ink pen – and I do have a nice one my momma bought me for Christmas, I find myself reaching for the matching mechanical pencil.
Why? The answer is amazingly simple – the eraser.
Last year, when I couldn’t find a planner or agenda to meet my needs, I resorted to making my own bullet journal. I found it practical to meet our family’s crazy scheduling needs and my own desire to keep everything I needed to keep us organized in one place.
When I first looked up bullet journalling ideas on Pinterest I quickly decided to set my bar pretty low for creativity and style. There are some pretty elaborate and easily overwhelming ideas to immolate on its endless boards of pins and posts. My journal would HAVE to been practical to work for me and I would HAVE to make sure my expectations would be realistic.
I didn’t create a scrapbook type archive, but from a small, Walmart-bought, spiral notebook I found a place to write my to-do lists, keep a calendar, and make records of bills paid, notes written and Christmas gifts bought.
But, I found myself hesitant to write within the simple pages in ink. What if plans changed? What if I didn’t allow enough room? What if the ink bled through to the next page?
So, I reached for the pencil.
Knowing I could erase, I felt more free to be more creative. If I didn’t like it, I could erase it and start over. Also, I found if plans changed, because, let’s face it they do – I could erase the entry and move it.
Life rarely goes like I plan. My plans often change or are changed for me. Putting them in pencil somehow makes them less set and makes it less traumatic when they alter. It gives me a way to hold my agenda and expectations more loosely.
Because the journal is my calendar and “command center,” I carry it with me pretty much everywhere. As a result, so does a pencil. There are times now where I can’t find a pen, but I have my trusty pencil.
One Sunday, while listening to the sermon I wanted to make a note in my Bible. It was one of those times that I couldn’t find my pen, so I reached for the pencil. Again, it was liberating to write on the thin page in pencil. I erased and moved my note. Now, I find myself making more and more of these little pencil insights in my Bible.
I realize that our perfect God doesn’t make mistakes. He has no need for an eraser. That fact is one of the reasons that I praise Him. His Word tells me that He has already written all my days in His book before one of them ever came to be. That is another fact that I praise Him for. Because of His perfection, He could write those days for me in a Sharpie marker.
As I write in pencil in my bullet journal and my Bible, I am student, a disciple of His learning how number my days that I might gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). At least in my mind, as I write in pencil, I am more flexible to let the Lord direct my steps (Psalm 37:23). His plans and ways are higher than mine anyway (Isaiah 55:9), so shouldn’t I make all plans in pencil to begin with? I want Him to have the freedom to change my plans. Writing them in pencil keeps me from holding my plans so tightly.
While my weekly to-do list is not grand, I want God free to dictate how I spend my afternoon. Seeing my plans written in pencil, I can easily slide something from today to tomorrow or even next week. I am able to better prioritize what really needs to be done to what doesn’t. I have found windows of opportunity to simply be still and know He is God all because I have passed over the pen for a pencil.
It is in these everyday decisions and activities that the Holy Spirit and I are building a lifetime of faithful obedience. My pencil has become a tool in this process of sanctification and it is working right now for me.
It’s a simple change but it has had huge implications for how I look at my days, myself and my God.
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