• Rebecca Mott

No Red Ink



I remember the days when school teachers used to grade real papers. Multiple-choice electronic test were "fancy." In those days, we would write out assignments on sheets of paper and turn them in. Does that still happen?


Anyway, I was always a student that wanted to make good grades. As a result, whenever I received my papers back, the sight of red struck terror into my heart. It wasn't due to any external pressures. I just had these deep desire to make "100." And yes, I was THAT kid that always asked for, no, demanded extra credit.


Well, way back then I developed this deep hatred for the "red ink." It wouldn't be so bad except that some teachers didn't just draw a simple "x." No. They drew a BIG RED "X" that you could see from 100 feet away. OK, maybe not that far. But you get me point.


Even worse than that, some would take their red ink and write comments all over your paper. Are you kidding me? The BIG RED "X" wasn't enough?


After years of conditioning, I began to associate red ink with judgment. It may seem petty, but I believed that the aggressive use of the red ink pen was an attempt to judge, criticize, and belittle me. Well, maybe it wasn't intended that way. But it certainly made me FEEL that way.


I always breathed a sigh of relief anytime I had a teacher who chose NOT to use red ink. Somehow, the use of any other color did not feel the same way to me.


A recent event triggered my bad memory of the RED ink. Before I knew it, I had put the person who used it into a box that said, "You are dumb. I am better than you." I know, kind of extra.


I didn't realize the association until I slowed down later to figure out what triggered such emotion. After some deep meditation, I finally found the culprit: childhood memories of papers with big RED INK "X"s and scrawls of RED INK comments.


I am not alone.


I tell you this story partly to make you laugh and partly to make you aware. First, let me say that if you are a red ink user, stop it now! It is completely unnecessary and will possibly scar people for life.


Now that we are past that, let me also say that some things are buried deep within our consciousness. We often don't understand completely why we feel what we feel. We just feel. The danger in just feeling is that the source of your emotion may not be what you think.


My red ink emotions was a result of a little girl trying desperately to do well in school tell herself a story about the people who wrote on her paper with red ink. And that story was stuck in my subconscious waiting to emerge at just the wrong moment.


Today, I want to challenge you to slow down. Before you take offense at something someone says or does, ask yourself, "What is at the source of my emotion?" And be willing to think long and hard. It will require stillness. It will require silence. It will require deep introspection.


The really cool thing about it though is that once you discover the source, you will likely realize that the story playing inside your head needs to be re-scripted. See my post from yesterday about letting go.


Don't worry about me. I am really OK. Red ink has no power of Rebecca...anymore.


A great book I have been reading recently is AHA by Kyle Idleman. It's about coming to grips with grace - one of my favorite topics. Give yourself a little grace. All shall be well.


And I am cheering for you.



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