the rock jar

the rock jar

. 3 min read

This is what I know about the abundance of God.

We have this jar that sits on our counter. It's full of rocks. In our house, we drag out an empty pickle jar when kids get whiny, beside it we station a big bucket of rocks. When a child needs a little help visualizing how their behavior impacts those around them, we bring this jar out. To fill the jar, you must follow house rules and manage yourself well. To empty the jar, you don't follow house rules, you whine, you blame people, you fall down in full-body tantrums over having to eat your favorite food for dinner. When the jar is finally full, there's a celebration--snow cones, movie night, something that says "you did it, kiddo. Please keep up the hard work of not being a complete turdblossom." At some point in the journey, each kid has had a jar. This particular jar at this particular time is Jojo's. It's been emptied more times than in the entire recorded history of her brothers, whose jars seemed only to fill never to empty. I think this is because she has a stubborn sort of determination—which is wonderful. I remind myself often, her will is wonderful. It's a gift. I pray that she'll aim it at some worthy cause and work tirelessly toward it, undeterred by setbacks or critics. However, when her stubborn will is aimed at not going to bed or when it demands she have a meltdown each and every time she encounters the word "no"—that is not something I celebrate. That is the time I drag out the jar.

So, Josie and her rock jar have a contemputous relationship: She knows what she needs to do to fill it up, but there's a distance between knowing what she needs to do and doing it—that little thing called learning. After a week or so of serial failures, she had 5 hard-earned rocks in her jar. They were small river-stone pebbles like you buy at the craft store, it barely covered the bottom. I saw Josie stare at her jar while I was making dinner. She was thinking hard. Finally she said, "I have a great idea" and grabbed a bucket and went outside. When she came back in, flushed, sweaty, and breathless, she towed a large amount of gravel from the driveway behind her in the bucket. They weren't the small, shiny pieces she usually collects and prizes as "treasure," these were rocks with a 2-3" diameter. Carefully, she got her jar down and dumped out her 5 little rocks. She lined them up; then she dug out the biggest pieces of gravel she had found and lined them up 1-2-3-4-5 in front of the small stones. She made a big ceremony of placing them in the jar. When she was done, she beamed at me proudly and said, "Mama, I know how to fill the jar faster, I just needed bigger rocks."

Finnly looked on, incredulous, "Mom, are you seriously going to let her do that? She didn't even ask."

I smiled and took a deep breath and I said, "You know, I believe in the abundance of God and I think that it works something just like this. So yes, I will allow it."

The problems I face now, the overwhelming thoughts or feelings I have, when things seem downright impossible, I think now of Josie's rock jar. How she looked at it and dwelled in a world of possibility, a world where there are bigger rocks available immediately if only we have the will to get them. I believe this about the abundance of God: that everything we need is within us or close to hand, at the very least, nearby, if only we have the patience to see and the will to go and do the work.