I have a question. Now, for all you male-types out there, please forgive me for asking this. I’m sure to you, it will seem like a stupid question. But as I watch my son’s fascination with one particular, everyday object, I am reminded of countless little boys and big boys I’ve known who have had this same fascination. And I just have to know the answer.
What is the deal with little boys and rubber bands?
Seriously, it is a small piece of rubber, formed into a ring. Its intended purpose is to band things securely in place. But give any little boy a rubber band, and stand back. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine what will happen next.
In case you don’t have one of your own (a little boy, not a rubber band,) I will give you the play-by-play.
First, he takes the rubber band in his hands as if it were great and rare treasure. Then, he will stretch that rubber band into every possible configuration. He will make figure eights, ovals, squares, rectangles, even stars! Next, he will see what kinds of things he can “band.” He will band his foot. Then his wrist. Then the dog’s tail.
Then, when his mother tells him to leave the dog alone, he will take the rubber band and stretch it some more. Inevitably, he will decide to use it as a weapon! Less than three minutes from the time they were introduced to one another, both boy and rubber band will be zooming around the room, colliding with anyone or anything that happens to be in the way.
Hmmmm … have you ever really looked at a rubber band? By itself, it is really not good for much. It is limp, dull and lifeless. It just sits there. It has very little value if left alone. In order for a rubber band to be useful, in order for it to fulfill its intended purpose, it has to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.
And interestingly enough, the rubber band is not going to stretch itself. It has be stretched by someone who sees its potential, someone who has in mind a greater purpose for that rubber band than for it to be just a limp, lifeless piece of rubber.
Have you ever noticed that people are that way? Many times, we are presented with opportunities to stretch our abilities, or our faith, or our patience. But most of us don’t like to be stretched. It is uncomfortable, and it even hurts, at times. We like things to be easy. So, when we see a potential stretching opportunity, we often duck and hide.
We make excuses. Like Moses, who tried to convince God that he wasn’t the man to lead the Jews out of Egypt, we try to convince ourselves and others that we’re not up to the task. If given the choice, we would remain unstretched.
But when you think about it, it is good to be stretched. It makes us stronger, causes us to have more faith, causes us to be more useful. And yes, it may hurt a little.
But honestly, that is the only way we will reach our full potential as human beings.
If we always do the easy thing, if we always stay in our comfort zones, we will eventually find that we have lost our usefulness. We will become limp and lifeless, like an unstretched rubber band.
When we allow ourselves to be stretched, we will often find that we are stronger than we realized. It may cause some discomfort for a while, but at the end of it all, we will be stronger, stretch farther and accomplish more than we ever thought possible.
And one more observation for all you female types: the more a rubber band is stretched, the skinnier it gets. Not sure if that’s relevant.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you.” —Exodus 3:11-12