Max Lucado wrote a children’s story about a wooden people. The Wemmicks, as they are called, live in a small wooden village where they spend each day giving each other marks. Stars are awarded for successes, accomplishments, and well-developed talents and dots are dispensed for failures, mistakes, and shortcomings.
Punchinello is a very dotted little Wemmick. Punchinello tries so hard to be what the other Wemmicks see as valuable and when he isn’t able to he is given poor dots so everyone else can see his failures too. Punchinello receives so many bad marks that he comes to believe it when the other Wemmicks say that “he is not a good wooden person” and that “he deserves lots of dots.” Of himself, Punchinello says, “I’m not a good Wemmick.”
As humans, there are many things to which we tie our value. Our sense of self-worth is correlated with our ability to be successful or sociable. The value we see in our own self is associated with the cleanliness of our home, the décor of our home, and/or the landscaping of our home. We feel of value with the purchase of a new electronic device or a new car. We feel a sense of self-worth with a smokin’ pair of shoes that lavishly complement our favorite pair of jeans, chic blouse, and accessories.
We often tie our self-worth to how enviable we believe we are to the world. We, I think unwittingly, associate our self-worth with our vanity. Our sense of personal value seems too often to be generated by what other people think of us. Or by what we think other people think of us.
I can’t help but feel that when I place my own personal value in my material objects, my ability to knock out a checklist, or in my physical appearance that I’ve somehow misplaced my worth! These things are so fleeting! And my feelings of worth fluctuate more than a Himalayan skyline when up against such facades!
So what makes me of worth? What makes you of worth?
In Lucado’s story Punchinello comes to meet a Wemmick unlike any wooden person he has ever met. Her name is Lucia and Lucia had no dots and no stars! Not only had she no Wemmick marks but the stars and dots Wemmicks tried to place upon her would not stick! Stars and dots would fall right off as if they had never been given. “That is the way I want to be, thought Punchinello. I don’t want anyone’s marks.” Having asked Lucia why she was stickerless. Lucia explained that every day she went to visit the woodcarver, Eli. Punchinello works up his courage and goes to visit Eli. The Woodcarver knows him by name and is thrilled to have Punchinello visit! Punchinello is surprised that the Woodcarver knows his name! “Of course I [know you]. I made you,” explains Eli. Eli picks up Punchinello and sets him down on the workbench. Eli mentions the dots and Punchinello swiftly exclaims,
“I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard.”
“Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.”
“No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”
Punchinello laughs and swiftly explains all his shortcomings and reasons for not being anything, “Why do I matter to you?” he asks.
“Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”
Punchinello asks Eli why Lucia has no marks and Eli offers this simple, yet profound answer,
The maker spoke softly. “Because she has decided that what I think is more important that what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them…the stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.”
Punchinello doesn’t really understand. Eli explains that he will, but it will take time, “You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”
As Punchinello left he thought to himself, “I think he really means it.” And a dot fell to the ground.
You and I are of worth because we were created by Divine Hands. Our physical bodies were developed through the physiological methods our Heavenly Father set forth for our earthly life, and our Spirits! Our spirits were created by The Father before we were born (according to scripture, before the earth was even created!). So our very nature is divine and our worth eternal. If that doesn’t make us of very great value, nothing we can come to in this mortal existence will.
From now on, as I observe people throughout my day, I’m going to make a conscious effort not to compare myself to them, them to me, or them to others. When I look at someone I’m passing I will think, Isn’t God an incredible Creator! And then I’ll marvel at the phenomenal design of our physical bodies that vary in shape, size, and color but the physiological design is the same and equally as amazing in each version. From there, my mind will wander to the personality and real life that our spirits put into our bodies. Our spirits make our phenomenal bodies vibrant!
As I consider these thoughts regarding the people around me, I hope the Lord will fill my heart with the compassion. I hope that I will begin to see strangers, friends, and family not as competition to be sized up and ranked, but rather as Creations of Worth, People of Value, and Children of a Heavenly Father, a Divine Creator and therefore worthy of my respect, my patience, and my kindness.
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” Doctrine and Covenants 18:10
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, To All A Good Season!