My cheeks turned bright red, and my stomach churned as I stared at the test.
This couldn’t be right! I was an “A” student. I had never gotten an “F” on anything in my life!
But there was my score, staring back at me on the top of my math test.
I had failed.
As disappointment sank in, deeper and deeper, a new wave of mortification swept over me. What would my parents think?!
I couldn’t bear the thought of telling them. It was too shameful–utterly humiliating. They would be so disappointed!
Unless… Unless they didn’t find out. And I resolved then and there not to tell them.
I don’t remember if they found out on their own, or if my guilt eventually got the best of me and I told them, but somehow, the information reached them.
Their response surprised me.
They were a little disappointed in the grade, because they both knew I could do better than that, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was a learning experience, and there were things I could do to bring the grade up.
The real disappointment was in the fact that I had tried to keep the grade a secret–I had withheld something important from them. If only I had just told them from the start!
Ashamed, but also free of my burden, I learned something important: My parents didn’t want me to be perfect. They wanted me to be honest.
Living a life of integrity is more important than all the A’s in the world.
I’m not saying that grades don’t matter, because to an extent, they do. They help you set goals for learning, and eventually, they can help get you into college.
But your grades do not define you.
Getting low grades does not make you a failure at life. Getting lower grades than you want (I’m talking to you, my fellow perfectionists!) does not make you any less of a person.
Sometimes, you make mistakes–because you’re human, and we all make mistakes.
Sometimes, you just don’t get it–because school is hard, and maybe commas or mathematical proofs or significant digits aren’t your strong suit.
Sometimes, you can’t get it all done–because you’re going through a really hard time, and it’s a victory to make it through the school day.
And you know what? That’s OK.
Yes, you should try. But your best effort is going to look different than everyone else’s. What matters isn’t your score at the end, but the fact that you have tried your hardest and learned something along the way.
And no matter how discouraged you might feel, remember this: When God looks at you, he doesn’t see grades. He sees you, His beloved child, covered in His love and grace. And that is what matters most of all.