Day 347: The Marble Jar

One of the stories I like best from Brene’ Brown (yes, I’m talking about her again) is the story she tells about her daughter’s teacher, who brought out a large jar on the first day of school. The teacher said if the kids behaved well, worked hard, were kind, etc., she would add marbles to the jar. If they were not all that, the teacher would remove marbles from the jar. The teacher promised a party when the marbles reached the top of the jar.

One day, Brene’s daughter was distraught because she had told one of her “friends” something that she had been embarrassed about. By the time recess was over, many of the girls in the class knew and were making fun of her. The teasing was so bad, that marbles came out of the jar that afternoon.

That night, upon discussing the terrible day with her mom, she said she thought the girl was her friend and wondered how she could tell if someone was a friend or not. Brene’ told her daughter that over time, you gain trust with people by their actions. When the actions are positive, you add marbles to their “jar” and when the actions are negative, you take marbles out. A light went on in the daughter’s mind and she happily reported she had 4 friends who were full-marble-jar friends, who had proven themselves as loyal and kind and supportive.

The marble jar is a great word picture. We have daily situations that have us adding or taking marbles out of a specific “jar.” The fuller the jar, the more trust has been built, and the easier it is for handfuls of marbles to be added exponentially to the collection. An emptier jar should leave us taking a step back and questioning motives, especially if it was once a full jar. It’s not that trust can’t be built up again, but once the marbles are gone, it’s very, very difficult to fill it back up again. Those marbles may have to come in one at a time and we may have to collect a bunch of them before we’ll believe any of the marbles really belong in the jar again.

DAY 347 HOMEWORK: On the opposite side of this word picture, what are we doing to add positive marbles to someone else’s jar? Or are we providing lots of opportunities for others to remove our marbles? Do your best to be full marble jar friends.

One final note: if you have difficulty knowing whether you can trust someone or not, think of their marble jars. What have they done to add marbles to the jar? And what have they done that made you want to take the marbles out, or maybe even smash the jar on the floor? When you can picture that, you have a better picture of how much you truly trust that person, and you can act accordingly.




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