My daughter’s classroom has a marble jar. Her teacher uses it as a gentle reminder to the students of how their behavior is being exhibited in the room. Often without words, she will add marbles as a reward for good deeds and positive actions being demonstrated by students; when tempers flair or unkind words are spoken, marbles are removed. It is a visual gauge of their behavior.
One look at the jar and they always know where they stand.
The class also knows that when the jar is full, they will receive a class reward. Being a democratic society, they vote on what their reward will be. Once, they chose a pizza party. Another time, they voted to have breakfast brought in from Denny’s. It is their system of checks and balances; for them, it works.
The trust you build with others can also be measured like marbles in a jar. When the people in your life share your struggles, stand by you during the rough patches and respect the vulnerabilities of your life, you put marbles in the jar of friendship.
Brené Brown writes about this in her book, Daring Greatly. She calls those friends “marble jar friends” and those of us blessed to have them are blessed, indeed. Those are the friends who we can always count on, who know the naked, ugly wounds of our lives and love us regardless. They don’t let us get away with our nonsense, but treat us with respect. They guard our secrets, share our pain and pray with us when the burdens of life become overwhelming.
I can count on one hand the true marble jar friends I have. I know that those marbles don’t magically appear in the jar; they require work to earn them, keep them there and celebrate their beauty. Put the jar on the shelf to admire it, and the jar gets dusty and forgotten. Take it for granted and one day, it will fall and shatter beyond repair.
That “jar” is a big collection of trust and love, carefully collected and tended to over time. I’m learning that no matter how tired I am, how overwhelming my world is, that losing my marbles – err my precious friendships – would indeed be my undoing. Taking the time to give the ones I love my full attention and assure them of my love and interest in their world, is the most important thing I can do.
Yes, tending – and adding! – to my marble collection is quite fun these days. I’m learning a lot about all sorts of great new ways to round out this outrageous life! Man, what I’ve been missing!