When We Don’t Make the Grade
It was my last class of the week—my first week as a teacher.
“Ms. Metzger, you made a mistake when you totaled my score on the quiz. I earned an 87, not a 92,” the student said.
“Wow! How honest you are. I’ll fix it.”
The student’s eyes widened. “You’re not supposed to fix it! Most teachers reward honesty by not changing the grade.”
I smiled. “Then I won’t change a thing.”
When life tests you and you score poorly, it’s safe to come to God and admit you only deserve a C. God is gracious. He doesn’t record your mark in some giant gradebook in the sky, fixed for all eternity. One of the most essential aspects of prayer is to be yourself, to be real, to be honest. Intimacy is always based on transparency. If you want a deeper relationship, bare your heart and soul to God. (Nothing you say will be news to Him anyway.)
Perhaps authenticity is most critical when you’ve goofed up. Owning up to your failure gives God opportunity to work miracles. He patiently labors to transform you. He provides the strength, wisdom, and courage to begin again. God loves you in spite of you and rewards your humility and trust with grace abundant. God promises to distance you from your mistakes “as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103:12).
I find looking at my moral mistakes difficult. I want to avoid the uncomfortable. Today, we say that shame is unhealthy, and it is. But that doesn’t mean that mental health lies in hiding our guilt or justifying our less than noble actions.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, formulated a daily practice called the Examen. It’s an examination of consciousness, not merely an examination of conscience. You ask yourself: How did I do today? Where did I find God? Where did I miss His presence and His promptings? What were my motives? What fears drove me? It’s a practice that demands candor and courage and leads to spiritual and emotional growth.
In dealing with everyday negative emotions, 12 Step programs recommend that you “Name it. Claim it. And Dump it.” (“I feel nervous. This fear belongs to me. I don’t need to keep carrying this burden.”) This simple little process can prevent burying feelings. When you bury your feelings “alive,” they tend to dig their way to the surface, where they can trip you up on your journey time and again.
The same process of naming, claiming, and dumping is healthy when dealing with everyday negative actions. Naming and claiming them before a Power greater than yourself gives you a power greater than your own to move on. You are granted a clean start. God makes all things new.
Today, be aware.
God’s Life floods your heart.
It’s always Raining Grace.