pencil

A friend told me the other day that their child was taking the SAT’s for the first time on Saturday. That brought up a bunch of reminders of my high school days and how “important” those standardized test scores were to a student’s future college endeavors. One of the big things I remember about those tests was that you had to have a number 2 pencil and bubble in all of those circles. You even had to bubble in the right circles for your name and address. I think you even got a certain amount of points just for that.

Always looking for new post ideas, I started thinking about how a husband is similar to that number 2 pencil. Ok. Are you still with me? Stick with me a second and we will see if this idea works out.

The Long and Short of It

Pencils go through a life cycle from being a long pencil to a short one you can just get your fingers around. I look at this as a man’s patience or probably his temper. Hopefully, husbands will always have a lot of patience and control their temper. I especially hope they can do this with their wife. A lot of times, though, by the time we have gone through the day we have been worn down to a nub by the time we get home. We need to be able to maintain our self control even in these times.

The Sharp and Dull of it

Pencils require periodic sharpening to be at their best. A husband must go through periodic sharpening to be at his best as well. I heard someone quote the familiar phrase the other day, “The more I know the more I know I don’t know.” So, how does a husband sharpen himself for his marriage and family?

He can obviously go to the Bible for some sharpening. This is probably his best source for guidance and direction on being the man he needs to be. Along those lines, there are many good books that can help a husband be a better leader of his family.

He can find sharpening from his wife. If a husband can communicate and express his love for his wife he can find an intimacy with her that refines him in everything that he does. He is able to go through his marriage with purpose and conduct himself as the head of the family.

He can be sharpened by a fellow friend or mentor. I find out more everyday that having someone that you can share anything with and be accountable to is a very rewarding endeavor for both individuals. Knowing that you are not the only one that struggles with everyday life issues is comforting and relatable. It is also possible that that person may have experienced that issue before and gone through that particular fire before.

Thank Goodness for the Eraser

Pencils are unique from other writing utensils in that most have an eraser that can eliminate mistakes. In real life I don’t know if we can fully erase our mistakes but we do have the ability to ask for forgiveness when we have screwed up. And we will screw up. As important I believe is our need to be forgiving to others when they have wronged us. One of the biggest problems I see in marriages is when a man does not forgive his wife or children when they have messed up. If they present themselves to us fully acknowledging their mistake and repentant for their actions we need to be able to erase those mistakes and move forward. In other words, we need to let God deal with their sin and their sincerity. If a man doesn’t use his eraser then he will garner a spirit of bitterness. This will eat away at him and unfortunately the bitterness oftentimes becomes an idol for him. This will often harm other relationships and even the man’s health. So, try to use that eraser as much as you can.

Pb to be a Leader

Ok, this is the weakest pencil comparison in this post because I have to turn lead (lĕd) into lead (lēd). It can’t be too much of a stretch though that husbands need to be the head of their family. The Bible tells us that we should love our wife as Christ loved the church. That is quite a responsibility there. To be the most effective leader you can be you need to be worthy of the trust placed on you as the leader. If you are not worthy of respect it will be difficult for you to be the head in your family.

Looking Out for No. 1

On any standardized test the essential equipment you needed was number 2 pencil. I think this is one of the most important topics in this post. In today’s society we are pushed to always strive for number 1 and “get yours or somebody else will.” When it comes to your role in your marriage and family it is most important that you be willing to be number 2. What does that mean? As I mentioned earlier about loving as Christ loved the church, our biggest role will always be as a servant. We need to be willing to die to self. Our decisions need to be made with a servant’s heart toward our wife and family. It is so contradictory, but the more that we can put our trust and fears in God and allow him to lead, the better every aspect of our marriage will be. Most marriages that we have seen changed do not start with the other spouse. The changes have almost always started because the spouse that wanted the better marriage changed themselves. They chose to become more Christlike. They chose to put some of their issues in God’s hands. They chose to be a servant to their spouse. We need to work on being number 2.

Usefulness

A pencil is not very valuable unless it is capable of being used. A pencil needs to be able to be handled to be used effectively. We need to allow ourselves to be handled and used for God’s purpose as well. That may even mean we need to be vulnerable at times. A lot of times I believe we miss out on great times in our marriage and families because we are too stubborn to be vulnerable. We hide behind these tall walls that we have built and do not let anyone in.

I recently watched a talk given by Brene Brown on TED. I have the link on my Respected Husband facebook page. Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She began a study ten years ago researching vulnerability. In the midst of her research she realized there was one group of people that she found that embraced their vulnerabilities and imperfections. She found that this group was able to find authenticity and worthiness in the way they lived and recognize that they are enough just the way they are. She aptly labeled this group as having “Wholeheartedness.” She found that people that could be vulnerable in their relationships found that they were “worthy of love, belonging, and joy.” Brene’s talk is well worth a few minutes of your time. Her work is purely from a science background, but I think we can see that God’s design is pretty evident in her findings.

The Nub of the Post

I hope you take this silly post comparing a husband’s role to a number 2 pencil and are able to get something meaningful out of it that you can work on this week. Although a lot of times our roles as a number 2 pencil involve getting gnawed on, dented up, and even having our point broken, we can find hope that we can be the best husband we can be. If we can let ourselves be available and vulnerable to our God, our wife, and our family we will surely be blessed in our marriage and in life. We can surely stand tall in that pencil cup of life.