I almost went LIVE with this thought, but decided not. Fresh thoughts can sometimes be so emotionally charged, and Spirit void, the intent may not always be conveyed. But I want to share something, trusting my time processing via writing will allow Holy Spirit to put into Word, once and for all – a very real truth we all need to EMBRACE rather than giving a head nod to.
I could see the tears welling up in her eyes, but she was fighting their flow.
How was your day?
How’d the test go? Quivering of the lip. And then it came. The dam couldn’t hold back the trickle bound back longer than this moment.
I failed. I am failing at everything. I just want to crawl in a hole and cover up…
Woah. Slow your roll.
It was time to sit down, look her straight in the eye, and bring Holy Spirit wisdom into the situation, speak life, and help her see she is more.
That’s not true, I looked at your grades. You have all A’s and a B+. You are not failing at EVERYTHING.
You may have failed at this test, but it is not EVERYTHING. The lip quivered more and then it came…
I know you struggle with not feeling as smart as other people. I know it bothers you your sister seems to get academia while it eludes you. I know you feel stupid and it makes you feel horrible. A tear comes to my eye and she asks why I am going to cry, as if I am disappointed that their aptitudes are as different as their personalities.
Far from it! My tears come from a place of knowing how long you’ve carried this burden and pain of never feeling as though you measure up in this area. Like you’re not good enough. You’re stupid. Lies, lies and more LIES.
And then the floodgates came pouring.
I was shocked, but not. Regardless of the fact our refrigerator has had on its whiteboard “Christ-Loved Ones-Academics-Talents” for over eight years and we do our best to echo and live out the very same values, performance and getting everything “right” has been a very real encumbrance for our children. Even though I said from the time they were in elementary to their now high school years, their character would always be the most important part of who they are, not their athletic talent or academic achievements, performance still seemed to influence their thoughts of worth.
I poignantly asked her…
Do you care about people?
Do you notice when others are hurting?
Do you listen when someone needs a shoulder to cry on?
Do you have advice when people are struggling?
Do you build people up?
Yes, for the most part. Of course for the most part. You’re human. There will be days when you may not appear to care, or notice, or listen, or have something helpful to say, or be able to build up. There may be days when you need to have someone care, listen, be helpful and build YOU up. You’re human, as we all are.
I went back to a moment in first or second grade. She had the wind completely knocked out of her by a young boy unimpressed with her ability to make moves on him. She hit the ground grabbing her abdomen and crying. I was that mom. I stood there waiting for her to get back up. When she didn’t, I walked. I walked towards her while all the parents sat in their lawn chairs alongside the dew kissed grass on a Saturday morning. I didn’t run, I walked with a steady yet persistent pace.
Are you alright?
Can you breathe?
Can you get up?
I don’t know.
You have two choices. I can carry you off this field and you can stop playing. Or, you can get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game and show them (the feisty boys) you will not be kept down.
She got back up. We exchanged reassuring head nods. I walked off the field. She resumed the game.
Drawing from the memory of her demonstrable strength, I spoke life.
You are more than a number. You are more than the results of some test designed by someone somewhere to provide some metric of what they think is some “smart”. The world may value intellect and place pressure on youth and adults alike to be more and do more, but you are not of this world. You are of the heavenly world. A world where you, while not perfectly so (who can say they do?) genuinely care for people.
If you were to die tonight, people will not care about the tests you did or did not pass or the GPA you held. They will only care about how you made them feel and if you were kind, loving and encouraging. Right?
What did your counselor say about the outcome?
I spoke with the principal because he could see I was upset and stressed.
What did he say?
Everything you just said.
He asked me if I was going to let a number or test define me and my future.
Praise the Lord!!! Yes, thank you Jesus for surrounding our children with adults who DO get it and are not afraid to speak the words I was led to speak. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you!
As we buttoned up our conversation, determined the best steps for moving forward, my heart was wrenched.
How many times in just the past week alone had I witnessed and had conversations with gals caught in the temptation of comparing to others. The comparison leaving truth and reality distorted and forward movement paralyzed.
How many times had I observed one disengaging, or avoiding altogether, eye contact, because of the sense of inferiority? On more than once occasion conversations passively indicated the hustle and accomplishment of one was likely unnecessary and must be exhausting, but deep down revealed the lackluster energy of the one sharing the words.
What about the conversations that weren’t had due to fear of not being enough or creating disappointment? What about all the side conversations with others that place folks in our minds either too much or not enough, according to what is comfortable for us, and then there is follow through with reflective actions?
Comparison accompanied by negative judgment of self and others will never be an edifying activity.
Comparison where we positively aspire to challenge our status quo and go a level higher, literally builds up – us, and if done according to Holy Spirit leading, those around us.
We have to be able to graduate from one to the other. We have to ask and trust Holy Spirit to show us how. We have to not assume the Cain role towards our community, because they appear more Able and acceptable.
Family, we have to accept who were are, where we are, and allow God’s wisdom to flow through us as we choose community and compassion, over apparent intellect, achievement and comparison.
God’s values are not the world’s values. He values your heart, mind and love towards Him and others. He will show you how to love and minister in the unique way only you have been called to since before you were formed in your madre’s womb.
Will that look different among each of us. Yes! But it’s supposed to! We are called to reflect Him through our own lives, not through mimicking the lives of others. That’s our offering to Him.
I’m praying this spirit of comparison will fall once and for all among God’s people. There are people craving to see continuity and community are more important than the same weights tying them down and keeping them bound.
Please let me know if I can pray for you. Blessings!