A couple of years ago, I had a student who spent quite a few free periods hanging out in my office. One day, he looked at me and said, “Mrs. Crowder, your bookshelf is bothering me. Can I organize it for you?”
I glanced over at the shelf to see what he meant. I saw stacks of books, piles of papers, bins of push pins, a crucifix that needed repair, and random binders everywhere—and so very much dust!
“What’s wrong with it?” I joked.
I agreed he could go ahead and straighten out the shelves if he felt so inclined. So, he spent the next couple of weeks “Marie Kondo-ing” my shelves (though I doubt he was actually familiar with her methods). “Mrs. Crowder, tell me the truth, does this book really bring you joy?” He was harsh. If I couldn’t provide a concrete reason why something stayed on the shelf, it went into the give-away or throw-away pile.
At one point, he stood with a binder in his hand, looking absolutely perplexed. “What did you find?” I asked.
“It’s a bunch of your graded work, I assume from grad school. Come on, Mrs. Crowder, do you really need to keep these?”
I walked up to him, grabbed the binder, and quickly rifled through the papers. “Yes!” I exclaimed. “I have to keep these!”
He looked at me with the critical eye he had been giving me during the whole process and said, “Give me one good reason why.”
“These,” I said matter-of-factly, “are my A’s. They make me feel worthy.” I noted the look of amusement on his face and said dejectedly, “But if you really think they should go…”
Leaving it up to him, I went back to work at my desk. After a few minutes, he came up and showed me the organized binder he had created. All the papers were securely in the rings of the binder, and on the spine in careful lettering was written, “Mrs. Crowder’s A’s.” “You can keep them for now,” he said. “But if you ever find you don’t need them anymore, please toss this binder.”
Oh, the wisdom 18-year-olds are capable of!
I don’t know what it is about a good grade that makes me feel worthy, but it does. In fact, if I could get a grade right now on brushing my teeth, showing up for work, or keeping my temper, I would not turn it down.
I crave acknowledgement and recognition of my wins. In fact, if God could start issuing me some A’s right about now, I would really appreciate it. I think it would help me believe that God sees me and thinks I’m doing a good job.
The truth is, however, that God doesn’t issue grades. God doesn’t have a rubric used to check if I am performing at the highest level in every category.
Instead, God is just plain proud of me. No. Matter. What.
What would it feel like to toss the binder of accolades and accept that God believes in me whether I’m failing or succeeding? What would it feel like to believe that I am A+ material simply by my very existence?
How would that change things for me? How would that change things for you?
Image by Stephanie_Curry from Pixabay.