The protagonist of the story, Punchinello, is covered in gray dots.
“…In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and give him one without reason. ‘He deserves lots of dots,’ the wooden people would agree with one another. ‘He’s not a good wooden person.’ …After a while, Punchinello believed them. ‘I’m not a good Wemmick,’ he would say.”
One day, though, Punchinello meets another wooden girl, named Lucia. Lucia doesn’t have any dots or stars. It wasn’t that people didn’t try to give her stickers; it’s just that the stickers didn’t stick. When Punchinello asks her why she is without stickers, Lucia explains that every day she goes to see her maker Eli in His workshop. She tells Punchinello to visit him. After Punchinello doubts that Eli will want to see him, he finally musters up the confidence to go.
Punchinello arrives to a greeting from Eli, and he is shocked that Eli even knows his name. He immediately tries to justify to Eli the gray dots given to him by the other Wemmicks, saying he has tried really hard.
Eli responds to Punchinello gently,
“Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think… I think you’re pretty special, because you’re mine; that’s why you matter to me” Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this – much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.
He proceeds by telling Eli that he met Lucia. When he asks Eli why Lucia’s stickers fall off, Eli reveals the secret:
“Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them… For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”
As the Sunday school teacher read those words, the hairs on my arm were standing straight up, and a sea of tears started forming in my eyes. “I just wanna be like Lucia,” I thought.
I found myself fixated not on Punchinello, but on the cameo that Lucia makes.
See, Lucia knows her identity.
I want to be the girl who goes to see her maker every day and allows him to tell her who she is. Because Lucia not only sees the fading worth of the dots but also of the stars.
Generally, I remember that negative words and condemnation should never settle in my mind. I put up a consistent effort in rejecting the thoughts and labels of inadequacy and shame, but I forget that the praises do not define me either. My identity is not in the dots, but it is also not in the stars.
Lucia reminds me that the stars need to fall off as quickly as the dots because the only definer of my wholeness and completeness comes from my Maker.
Maybe you relate to Punchinello, and you do not feel worthy of stars. You’ve defined yourself by the dots placed on you by others.
Maybe you relate to Calah, and you forget that the stars can be just as destructive as the dots when they become idols.
May we become more like Lucia and take a moment each day to be with our Maker. May we find ourselves sitting at the feet of Jesus every day, shaking off the criticism and humbly receiving encouragement. May the opinions of others never take reign over our hearts, but only the words of our Father, “What they think doesn’t matter…All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” – Psalm 139: 14