Visiting the Workshop

The following is written by our friend and fellow Man of Good Will, Ryan Busenbark. We thought his insights were appropriate to share at this Christmas season, since they illustrate the greatest gift that any of us can receive, to know that we are loved and uniquely special.

You're a Good Man...

During my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to play the part of Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. The part was a great fit for me as at the time I was very introspective and over thought a lot of things similar to how Charlie Brown would.

The opening number of the show starts with a mix of kids interacting with Charlie Brown or talking about what is wrong with him. We then go to Charlie, who talks about how today is going to be a great day, only to abruptly realize he is late for school. The song that follows has all the other kids singing “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and describing how he is good and how they know he will go far in life.

While all of this is going on, Charlie is bumbling about trying to get ready for the day and get to school, as well as not understanding why everyone is praising him. The line that always stuck out to me is when Charlie says, “I’m not good. I’m not bad. I’m something in between.”

I very much related to Charlie in this respect. I had done some good things in my life. I was also aware of mistakes I had made, and the shame that accompanied them. Several people around me would comment on what a good person I was, but I did not feel like it completely fit.

A scripture that comes to mind when thinking on this is Mark 10:18. A man comes running to the Savior and kneels and asks him, “Good Master, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” I have found this distinction interesting, especially due to how much good Christ brought about.

The Master's Workshops

When I think of God’s goodness, I am reminded of the story “You are Special” by Max Lucado. The story tells of a village of wooden people, called Wemmicks, carved by a man named Eli. It is a daily routine for all the Wemmicks to give each other stickers. They give yellow star stickers to those they admire and grey dot stickers to those in whom they see flaws. The main character, Punchinello, is one who as hard as he may attempt to succeed, is given plenty of gray dots.

One day he comes across a Wemmick who has no stars or dots stuck to her and when others tried sticking them to her, they would immediately fall off. He finds it peculiar and asks her how this is possible. She tells him that every day she goes to see Eli, the toy maker, in his workshop, and she invites Punchinello to do the same.

Nervously, Punchinello goes to see Eli. Eli tells him that he values Punchinello. Perplexed, Punchinello asks him why, as he has so many grey dots. Eli tells him, “You are special to me because I made you.” Eli also tells Punchinello that the stickers only stick if he, Punchinello, lets them. “The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.” At the end of the story, Punchinello states that he thinks Eli sincerely cares and a sticker drops from his body.

When I was younger, I cared a lot about what others thought about me. I was always worried about receiving negative feedback or the gray dots, so I did what I could to meet what I thought others wanted from me. This came in handy in school, especially where I was able to excel as a straight A student.

While I still care about what others think, it is to a much smaller degree, since I now see how unhealthy this mindset can be, especially when it comes to relationships. In the past I have been somewhat wishy washy in my beliefs and boundaries as I have tried to avoid any controversy or contention around me. Unfortunately, this has caused a whole lot of internal controversy and contention for me.

Last year, I visited a different kind of workshop and had a great experience of digging deep to the core of my soul. The process was done in layers as I had to peel back my concept of what others thought of me. Then I went deeper and put my successes and accomplishments aside. The next layer involved the shadows and shames in my life. That was a more emotional and difficult layer to put aside. The last layer to peel back involved my core values. It felt as though nothing could be under that layer. Who would I be without each one of these layers? In the end I saw the message that Punchinello was given, “You are special, because I made you”.

Heavenly Father sent me to this earth whole, and he loved me whole-heartedly before I took on any of the layers mentioned above. I am his son. He loved me from the beginning when he first made me, and I am loved just as whole-heartedly now. As I go to him each day, I have the opportunity to be reminded of his love and to be able to cast aside the layers or stickers, focusing on his love, which is what really matters. The following is a poem I wrote after the experience of releasing my layers

Releasing the Layers

Pull back the cover, my child dear

I love you deeply, there’s no need to fear

Though others may judge

Or so you tell

Pull back the cover, I say all is well

Pull back the cover, my strong-willed man

You’ve accomplished much and have many a fan

You’ve had much success

I’ll love you no less

Pull back the cover, I say all is well

Pull back the cover, my way-fairing son

I understand what you wish you’d not done

I’ve felt all your shame

And still love you the same

Pull back the cover, I say all is well

Pull back the cover from the core of thyself

I am giving you a wonderful help