It’s report card time at our house. This is the time of the year in a teacher’s life where my daughters become orphans. They live on packaged noodles or the left-overs in the fridge. There is not much significant talking as they are lost in watching videos and I am not able to carry on a conversation unless it involves assessment. We have many interactions where the girls say something expecting a response and fifteen minutes later I ask them to repeat what they said. By then they say “Just forget it” I start out early in the morning, sitting in my pajamas typing out comments and find myself looking at the clock at 4 p.m. wondering why I feel so tired and hungry. Then I realize I haven’t eaten all day and I am still in my pajamas. Let’s not even talk about the housework.This goes on for at least two weekends and throughout the week, three times a year.
I don’t know about you, but when I receive my daughters report cards I read them once and then file them away. I am usually involved in my daughter’s education and the report card is just a small window of time. But when I am writing reports for my students, I spend hours writing and rewriting comments so the parents will get an accurate picture of what their child can do and what he needs to learn. As I reflect on the progress of each child, I feel like it is a personal reflection of who I am as a person. If a child hasn’t made the academic progress I think they should have made, I feel like a failure. Report cards are a direct reflection of my abilities and my shortcomings, especially when my administrator puts red marks all over my carefully chosen words.
I am reading a book by Peter Johnston entitled Choice Words. He talks about how our words have power to change a life for the better or for the worse. Our words can make meaning or make people. Just the little word “yet” can change the value of person. You can’t cook that meal., as opposed to You can’t cook that meal, yet. The difference between “You never will” and “You will learn it.”
Many of his ideas remind me of Colossians 3:9-10 (NLT) 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. I sometimes believe the lie that who I am today is who I always will be. In the thesaurus, the word renewed is associated with come back to, or take up again. If I am going to come back again, I must leave first. I love the grace that God offers in these words as you learn to know your Creator. It gives me permission to make mistakes. to work on my relationship with God and still feel confident in my value as His child. The truth is I am a work in progress.
After parent-teacher interviews I often feel shaken and bruised, because not all parents I encounter extend God’s grace. I find hope in knowing that I am not a perfect person yet, but as I pursue my relationship with my Creator I will be renewed day by day. As I journey on the path of life, I long for personal renewal so I can offer hope to others that I meet on the path. I fear failure, but maybe my failure is a chance for God’s grace to play out in my life. As I am renewed, others may see that I am a work in progress, but I haven’t arrived yet. Take courage my friend, if you are struggling in a certain area in your life, give yourself permission to say “I haven’t arrived yet, I am being renewed.”