I am a sucker for children’s picture books. It does not matter how old I get, when there is
a new picture book that looks even remotely interesting at Target, I will stop and read it. A
few months ago this quirk paid off with the discovery of “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew
Daywalt. The first time I saw it, I was alone. The second time, I forced my friend to sit in the
floor with me while I read it aloud to her, but it was not until this fall that a copy of “The Day the
Crayons Quit” became mine.
Why does a 20 year old college student have such love for a picture book? Because it is a
book that is meant for adults as much as it is for children, and it tells a story that I see playing
out in interactions and meetings I have with practically everyone I know.
Duncan, a kindergartner, loves to draw. One day at school, the teacher tells him to go get
his crayons, but instead of his crayons, he finds a pile of letters. There is a letter from each
crayon: the red crayon is upset because he feels so overused, the purple crayon cannot stand
for Duncan to continuously color outside the lines, the gray crayon is exhausted from always
coloring such large animals, the green crayon is perfectly happy, though worried about the
yellow and orange crayons, who are arguing about which is the actual color of the sun. The
crayons stand for any person who has ever felt like his or her gifts are being overlooked or
underutilized, outdone by someone else’s or perhaps simply not recognized.
Surely there is not a person on this campus who has not felt this way or known someone
who has. One of the gifts of the time we spend in college is that it is a time to begin to recognize
our gifts, to see what God has given us and figure out how our gifts can be the most helpful to
the world around us – in short, to begin doing good on the largest possible scale. One of the
gifts of this particular place is that there are so many options available to you, enough that there
is a place for everyone. There are so many organizations, committees and interest groups that
there is surely one to fit the gifts that you see in yourself, and if there is not, this is a place where
you can start one.
This is a place where you belong. Maybe you came to Maryville College because of the
academics, but I hope that you stay because you feel like you fit here. I hope that you love this
place because here are people who love you for your unique, God-given gifts. You deserve
that. Do not let yourself get to a place where you, like the red crayon, feel overworked and
underappreciated. Do not let yourself, like the gray crayon, feel so exhausted that you cannot
imagine doing one more thing.
College is a time for new experiences, for pushing yourself and for discovering new things
about the unique person that God created you as, but it is also a time for learning the limits
within yourself and respecting them. It is a time for learning the things that you need to be your
best, and learning how to take time for those things.
May your time at this place be exciting. May your time at this place teach you new things,
both in the classroom and out. May your time here be the time for you to embrace the gifts you
have been given, to recognize them and to utilize them in a way that makes you feel the most
like yourself, for that is when you have found the person God most wants you to be.