Grades Are Overrated


“Hi, Renee. Can you come in next week to discuss your son’s test results?”  My heart felt that familiar momma squeeze. You know the one.  The phone call wasn’t surprising.  I’ve asked every doctor, teacher, and friend I know to help me solve the mystery of his little brain for years.

Preschool teachers reassured me that everything was fine.  All kids develop at different rates.  I knew this to be true.  He’s my third, not my first.  A momma just knows when something isn’t quite right.  Even when everyone else tells you it’s nothing, you know in your heart it’s something.

At a preschool meeting  when he was 3, I shared my concerns.  After listening they offered, “Now that you mention it, there are times we can give an instruction and he seems to understand perfectly.  Minutes later we can give a similar instruction, and he can’t seem to follow it.  There is no rhyme or reason.”

At 18 months I took him to the pediatrician.  “He screams.  A lot.  Way more than the average toddler.”  The response was typical.  “He’s just a toddler.  They get frustrated.”  I felt there was more to his frustration than toddler frustration.  We kept on.

I asked the doctors if he could see well.  Was his hearing ok?  Everything seemed to check out.

God creates exactly what He wants to create.  God doesn’t create mistakes.  God doesn’t form a human being, send him into the world, and say, “Oops, guess I messed up on that one.”  He says, “It was very good.”

He knits us together in the womb.  Precision and attention to detail are undeniable.

I sat in Andrew’s classroom surrounded by loving teachers and administrators to discuss what I’ve seen for years and am now grateful others see as well.  His teacher and I have been communicating even prior to enrolling him in her class.  God used her and others in his school to comfort a momma’s heart that wants to know everything will be ok.  They didn’t make any promises about his learning path.  They couldn’t possibly.  But they love him.  His teacher loves him and sees what I see.  A unique soul filled with a love for God that is mature beyond his young years.

I knelt at his bed the night before the last day of school and watched him sleep.  Those arms are longer, feet are bigger.  Facial features are maturing.  Little hands becoming big boy hands.

And I thanked God that He made Andrew exactly the way He made Him.  I poured out my heart to God at that bedside.

“God if you had made learning easy for him, I would take for granted the magnificent ways you have created our brains to function.  I would have taken for granted the ease with which learning seems to take place.  I would have been prone to pride in my heart over the academic successes of my boys.  I would have taken the credit for what is not mine to claim.”

“God, if you hadn’t created him the way you had, I may have never been able to see the interesting treasures of his heart that cover where he is weak.  The parts that really matter.”

“God, you love this child more than I do, which is beyond my ability to comprehend.  If my heart aches at his struggles, what must yours feel?”

“God, he may have trouble learning letters, numbers, and sounds, but you have graced me with a gift that I treasure more than any gift I can remember in a long time.  You have allowed me to see a glimpse of a child’s heart that is sold out to you.  A heart that loves you with the most genuine love I’ve ever seen.  A heart that knows the giver of all things and knows who he belongs to.  Lord, thank you for the gift of this child, created exactly the way he is created. Let me love every unique twist and turn we encounter knowing that along the way, I will see you more clearly.”

We closed out another successful year last week.  We are realizing that success looks different for each of our children.  To celebrate and broadcast boldly an all A’s accomplishment of one sends a message to another that that is the picture of success.  All A’s are fine.  But it’s not everything.

We’ve never talked about grades much in our home.  Kids put enough pressure on themselves without us adding to it.  It’s attitude and effort.  Have a great attitude and work with your best effort.  If God has given you a brain that learns easily, all A’s will come.  If He has given you a brain that needs to work a bit harder, you may not get all A’s, but with a positive attitude and effort, you will succeed, and God will be glorified.

As we begin to navigate new territory of learning disabilities, I’m seeing scholastic achievement in a whole new light.  This year we aren’t rewarding or praising our boys for receiving good grades.  We are praising for working at school as if they are working for the Lord.

We give all we have to the Lord, the results are up to Him.  If the result is A’s, great.  If the result is B’s, great.  If the result is incredibly low test scores, great.  As long as we give all we have to the Lord, trusting in His ultimate plan for our life, God is glorified.

Grades are overrated.

A heart doesn’t receive a grade.  Loving others doesn’t receive a grade.  A good work ethic doesn’t receive a grade.  Integrity doesn’t receive a grade.  Putting others first doesn’t receive a grade.  But God sees it all.  He sees into our hearts, and when we work out of a deep love for Him, He will work everything out for us.  It might not look the way we want, but God doesn’t make mistakes.

My prayer over the summer, leading up to a new school year, is, “Lord, let us not focus on results, grades, and test scores.  Let us focus on effort and attitude.  Cultivate in our children hearts that love you so much they want to give everything they have to you.  May you receive glory and honor through their little lives.  Thank you for the gift of another school year with these kids.  Thank you for one more summer.”