Your value has already been determined.

impress

No, you don’t need another person’s approval.

God has already deemed you valuable.

Our God is not a God who does things haphazardly. So know today and every day that you were carefully planned and lovingly designed.

As my kids get older and I reluctantly relinquish them little by little into this awful world, where people are all too happy to push their insecurities off onto other people, where people would rather tear someone down than build them up, I try to impress their value into their minds. No, I don’t want them to get big heads… I always tell them to remain humble, and that their looks are just that… looks. The importance is having good character. There are plenty of attractive people in the world with garbage personalities. We don’t need any more of those.

While it is still necessary for your children to know that in your eyes they are physically beautiful, it is more important for you to make them understand that they don’t need the approval of another person to be alright. As they get older, I’m sure they will want to fit in. They might be like I was and have problems with their skin as they go into adolescence. My daughters might have that awkward stage where their body is kind of developing and kind of not. Maybe they’ll need glasses; maybe braces. Either way it goes, there might be something about them that either they don’t like, or some other jerk will bring to their attention as a flaw.

How can one overcome insecurities in this superficial, shallow, plastic world? Well, what does the Word imply to you in terms of your value?

Number one, we know that God makes no mistakes. If you just consider for a moment the majesty of God, the awesomeness of His works, and remember that He didn’t have to allow you to come into being. He didn’t have to make you. But He did. And we all know God is not a man, He is a spirit, but imagine if you will how much work He put in when He made you. God being spirit doesn’t have hands, but I like to imagine Him in deep thought, designing your blueprint like an architect does before erecting a magnificent skyscraper, paying attention to the smallest details, even numbering the hairs on your head.

Would you take that much time on something you didn’t value?

Second, we have to realize that everyone has flaws. Some have flaws that are not as visible as others. I think God purposely gave flaws so that people would remain humble. It’s not happening now. Instead, people project their flaws onto others. This is something I cannot understand… what joy would I get from making fun of someone who has a face full of acne, as if they asked for it? Why would I have to put someone down for not having clothes as sharp as mine without knowing their background? What difference does it make to me in my life how someone looks or what they have? Short answer–it doesn’t.

There is a stark difference between myself and my son in particular, and I kind of worry about him. I have a much thicker skin than him and a smarter mouth. In middle school and high school there were some people who had comments about my appearance. They were irrelevant. Just as quick as they could point out my flaws, I could point theirs out, and usually with a more colorful vocabulary.  Then I would go to my group of friends or my family, feel the unconditional love from them, and keep it moving. On the occasions where someone has said something to Jayden, I’ve asked him why he said nothing back. He said he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings, even if they’ve hurt his.

That.ticks.me.OFF.

Not his response, but that there are people in this world that are so awful that they can’t appreciate that kind of kindness and tender-heartedness. I’m not so much worried about my girls–I think they’re going to be pretty tough–but what I’m not interested in is hearing about some little boy whose parents haven’t spent as much time trying to develop his moral character as they have his jump shot making my son feel bad for being a nice person.

Christian I may be, but this is no society to raise wimps, so I tell Jayden he can defend himself from verbal assaults as well as physical. The verbal defense, if he is not comfortable, doesn’t have to be anything mean. All he has to do is inform the person that he doesn’t care whether they like him or not. I’ve told him time and time again, for the one person out there who doesn’t like you or is jealous of you, you’ve got literally hundreds of family members and other friends who think you’re just fine the way you are. And a mom who has not reached peak-Christianity yet and sometimes wishes I can shrink back down twenty years and throw some of these kids to the ground on his behalf.

In Sunday school, we discussed this subject. I was hoping there would be more kids to hear the message, because they all need to hear it. When God made you, He had a plan for you… the mighty, omnipresent, omniscient God of this universe took time out of His busy schedule just to make YOU. That should mean something to all of us. He decided the world needed YOU, and He wants to use YOU to help advance HIS kingdom. That right there ought to tell you how valuable you are. You don’t need a stamp of approval from someone who has no more power than you do. When God finished your blueprint, that was the only stamp of approval you needed.

Your worth has been determined. Don’t wait on anyone else to define that for you.

The Honorable Proverbs 31 Woman

proverbs 31 woman

I have been toiling away.

My husband was off for two weeks, and it was a wonderful time. I enjoyed his company and our kids were definitely happy to have him home. The entire time he was home, I was dreading his return to work, because I knew they would have to play catch up. As I suspected, he is already projected to work the entire weekend.

Often, I think about our complementary roles as parents. I think we have a pretty good handle on the parenting thing, for the most part. Are we perfect? Nah. Do we give it 100%? Absolutely. One thing is for sure, there are differences. I suppose it may be kind of innate for a mother to be a tad more tender toward her babies. My husband is no tyrant, but he is definitely the more firm, no-nonsense parent, whereas I admittedly allow my kids to get away with a bit more. Another difference is how our time is spent in the household. Since Matt is away working so often, when he is home, they’re usually hot on his heels everywhere he goes, and he is happy to wrestle with the kids, watch movies with them, play outside with them, etc. My free time with them is often spent coaxing them to do chores, helping them complete their educational Bridge books, cleaning up, and making sure they’ve dressed themselves, brushed their teeth, taken meds, etc. Honestly, sometimes it’s a drag. I won’t lie. But just like he goes to work over forty hours a week even when he doesn’t want to, I do what I have to around the house even when I don’t want to.

I often hear women talking about mothers as though they’re more important than fathers. I’m going to go ahead and disagree with that. The proof is in the pudding–children don’t fare as well in single-mother homes, and if moms were all kids need, then that wouldn’t be the case, right? And as the product of a two-parent home myself, I can attest to the benefits of having a Dad and Mom who also operated in the same complementary manner as Matt and I do now. So although we differ in style, we both love our children just as much. If harm ever came their way, I have no doubt that just as I would Matt would sacrifice himself.

I am not content to have him gone so often. It is necessary for us to stay financially afloat, and I feel compelled to do something about that. I have also been working on accepting the fact that I probably won’t be able to ever again have a scheduled, routine job–I don’t know a field that would be flexible enough to accommodate this illness–so I will have to figure out a way to use my talents to bring in a little extra cash while not interfering with my responsibilities to my family.

The well-known Proverbs 31 woman is an inspiration for all Christian women. She is a model for us to follow. As I’ve pondered my next steps I’ve been reading and re-reading those Scriptures and have found fullness of meaning in these verses in particular:

 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.(Verse 13)

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (Verse 16)

“She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. (Verse 19)

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (Verse 24)

And finally:

 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Verse 27)

There are some Christians who claim that wives should not work outside of the home. But yet, this woman here was an entrepreneur.  Now, we can make a couple of assumptions, and either one can be right–either she had the money from selling her goods to “consider a field, buy it, and plant a vineyard” or her husband fronted her the money. I’d like to think the former. This honorable woman rose early in the morning to care for her household and stayed up late at night working on the goods she sold. This is what I am trying to do–continue being a caring mother for my kids while not neglecting being a support to my husband, because I know his presence with our kids is just as important as mine.

With that being said, I am working toward a goal of having a finished manuscript by the end of August, and am I also working on a little side hustle–people have told me I make the best cheesecakes, so I am putting together a little cheesecake business. I’ve always loved cooking and baking, and have some ideas from my grandmothers that I want to use. I have about ten recipes. I named one after my mom, because the idea is based on her banana pudding recipe; another is named Emma after my maternal grandmother, because it is based on her sweet potato pie; a third is named after my paternal grandmother, Aggie, because it is adapted from her chocolate pie recipe. I am very excited by the possibility of doing things I love, possibly making a little money, and not having to leave my home.

Pray for me.

 

Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

I highly doubt she will ever read it, but in light of recent developments within the Department of  Education of which she is the head, I was compelled to at least voice my outrage.

“Betsy DeVos…

On February 16, 2003, while I was a senior at Grand Valley State University in Allendale Michigan, I was raped by a football player who I thought was my friend. Thinking of the other female students on the campus who might also fall prey to this perpetrator, I went immediately to the campus police and submitted to a rape kit that was almost as invasive as the actual rape itself. Keep in mind, I could have remained quiet and gone on about my educational business, but I felt it was my DUTY to remove a rapist from campus.

I mistakenly assumed that since I was the “good guy”, the pendulum of justice would swing rather quickly and in my favor. (I admit to being very naive). Unfortunately for me, this individual had helped GVSU secure a national championship that the school hadn’t seen in years, and it became obvious that school officials were more interested in keeping a possible pro athlete there than little old me. After all, I contributed nothing to the school–other than the fact that my parents paid my tuition and I was involved in numerous organizations that did, in fact, bring positive regard to the university.

The investigation was almost as humiliating as the rape itself, and I found myself being blamed for being victimized. What had I been wearing? What was the nature of the relationship between myself and the rapist prior to the incident? How many sexual partners had I had prior? The investigation was not to ascertain whether or not my complaint had merit. It was to solicit information that could be used to deny me justice.

In the end, the prosecutor used the answers to those very questions to decide not to take any legal action against my rapist. Seeing as though it was my senior year, and because I thought I was tough enough to handle the scrutiny, I refused to leave GVSU. I did everything I could–contacted the right people, kept the right documentation–only to have my rapist leave on his own accord. I was told that if he tried to re-enroll, I would be notified, and before he was allowed to return a judicial review would be held to determine his eligibility as a student.

Naive still, I believed them.

While preparing to attend summer courses, I was surprised to find that my entire course schedule had been dropped. In my four years of being a student, this had never happened. I re-registered, and the classes were mysteriously dropped again. When I demanded to know a reason, I was told the classes were dropped because no tuition payment had been received–which was garbage because no tuition bill had even been generated yet. EVEN STILL, my parents were happy to pay, and I re-registered for the classes AGAIN and went to buy my books.

As I was walking into the bookstore, I almost walked right into the guy who had raped me.. He was carrying a bag of books that he had obviously just purchased. It was safe to assume that my classes had been dropped on purpose, don’t you think?

Mrs. DeVos, do you think that was acceptable? Do you want rapists to have free roam on campuses? Do you want to prevent survivors of rape from coming forward? Do you realize or even care how much of a setback that was in my life? I had to leave GVSU during my senior year and basically start over at a new university, and I have racked up considerable student loan debt because of it (and you’re screwing with that too!). I can’t even begin to list the psychological ramifications that come along with being a victim but not being looked at or treated like a victim.

With that being said, you are the head of the Department of Education, and since being sworn in you have taken some abhorrent steps in your position. I am absolutely appalled at some of your proposals, but the idea of rolling back the civil rights investigations as related to sexual assaults at schools is possibly one of the worst I’ve seen yet. I know that GVSU has been investigated for mishandling sexual assault cases–your administration does not want to make the list of universities that have Title IX complaints lodged against them public; can you explain the rationale behind that? Shouldn’t potential college students be aware of which universities to avoid like the plague?

What is wrong with you????”

 

I am most bothered by the actions of a woman who claims to be a Christian. I have seen NOTHING yet to convince me as such. When you put on that full armor of  Christ, when you are baptized and you receive that new fresh spirit and strip off that “old man”, people should be able to SEE a difference within you. You should not have to tell people you are a Christian. They should just be able to see your light without you telling them it is lit. The BEST evidence I get of how I have changed is that people approach me with their burdens and fears before they even know I am a Christian because there is something about me that is approachable and encouraging. People can know me for a very short period of time and see that there is a LOT of love within me for people in general. But I am having a DIFFICULT time loving these hypocrites that claim to be of God but are so easily swayed by little green pieces of paper to take DUMPS on those less fortunate. Everything Mrs. DeVos has proposed thus far would negatively impact vulnerable students, and I strongly despise her for that. And I am extremely angry.

Pain, pain, go away…come again some other…oh wait no, don’t come again…

I absolutely love baseball.

More than just loving baseball, I love helping my son to also love baseball. Watching him grow into a pretty decent player is extremely rewarding. I remember how upset he was when he didn’t make the basketball team at school, and how I tried to remind him that because of complications from his asthma, he had never played basketball further than gym class allowed him. I question whether or not we made the right choice to keep him from organized athletics, because he has always desired to play sports, but we held him back, especially when he was first diagnosed. Now, he kind of has to play catch up, but in terms of basketball and baseball, I think Jayden is exactly like me.

I loved watching basketball (now I only watch the playoffs. I get annoyed by the innumerable foul calls and the theatrics that take place when players are breathed upon hard enough to cause them to fall to the floor in a huge, six-foot-tall heap. I loved playing. However, basketball was just something I did for fun. I wasn’t a standout. I rarely got the ball because the point guard I usually ended up with in the game was a major ball hog, but when I did get the ball I could score a basket. My strong point in basketball was defense. Although I was usually one of the shorter people on the court, I have always been physically strong. I could guard people taller than me and get rebounds.

Softball is where I shone. Softball was more than just a game to me–it was a necessity. Even now I watch college softball and Olympic softball and get excited. I pay close attention to the pitchers, because that is what I was. A week ago, I managed to feign feeling good long enough to go to the batting cages to help Jayden with his batting. While there, I cracked a few good ones myself. Still got it…

After beating himself up for striking out during the first two games, Jayden’s practice finally paid off. In his last game, he went 3-3, with each of his hits being doubles, and got several RBIs. He also scored three times, helping his team reach their first victory. After the game he was awarded the game ball as his teammates chanted his name over and over and picked him to do the countdown leading up to them screaming their team name jubilantly before they ran off the field. He looked so happy. And I was so proud of him.

My dreams of participating in an adult softball league may not be actualized. My physical pain has kicked it up a notch, and I don’t know why. My feet feel like I am walking on broken glass. Every single muscle and joint in my body aches. My jaw even hurts when I speak or chew sometimes. My hands feel like they just want to draw up into fists. The tops and sides of my feet are tender to the touch and ache like crazy. And the back pain? I can’t even get comfortable enough to sleep. I looked up the term to describe that, and of course there is one–painsomnia.

painsomnia

Apparently there are tons of conditions that are related to this painsomnia phenomenon. All I know is, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I can’t think of many things more frustrated than being exhausted but unable to sleep. I’ve been a special kind of  crabapple in the morning in particular because of it. I have been considering giving up coffee but there is just no way I can conceivably do that. A quick cup of coffee is just about the only thing that evens me out in the morning. It’s not like I can get up and ease into my day. No, I usually wake up because one of my kids (or two, or all) have woke up and need something.  Since both my son and daughter are now playing baseball (more on her tomorrow because she has a game then), we are at the field almost every day for games and practices; church and choir rehearsals also take up a significant chunk of time; and of course I like to try to keep them academically involved and have a morning routine of Bible study and lessons. It would be impossible to get through my days without coffee. Well, possible, but somebody would come out of the day with some scratches, cuts, bruised egos and hurt feelings.

It even pains me to practice with my kids, but I am happy to do it anyway. Having to sit in a tub of boiling water just to get my muscles to relax and then hopping straight into a cold shower because now those heated muscles are twitching and I’m about to overheat and falling asleep with my feet hanging over the bed into my massaging foot bath with a heating pad under my back is worth moments like these.

Even though I might be frustrated and looking for answers, for my own sanity I can no longer dwell on certain things. Apparently whatever this is, it’s here to stay. Okay, some days are going to suck. There is no way around that. In order to not appear flaky because I am constantly canceling or rescheduling plans, I have been a lot more honest with people about how I am feeling. I do not like feeling weak, but the people who really love me know that I am not. I am sick. They know my pride would not allow me to feign an illness that would render me helpless in any sort of way.

In my convos with God, I just continue to pray for answers. I suppose I should pray for healing, but I really haven’t… Not that I wouldn’t mind being completely restored to my old self, but I just trust God–that if this is something He has deemed me to have, it is for a reason and just like all of the other trials and tribulations I have endured in this life, it is to teach me something or reach someone else, or both. So, although I don’t always “grin and bear it”–I am beyond hiding my pain so as to not make other people feel uncomfortable–if I am hurting, you’re probably going to see winces and cringes every now and then–I am in a better place than I was several weeks ago. My depression has lifted somewhat because I stopped focusing on things that were out of my control. I attempted to speak with my student loan servicers and got nowhere and pretty much had to just say forget it. I’ll send them what I can. I’m thisclose to getting a work from home job and getting my driver’s license back.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” One of my favorites from James 1:2-4… I  have used it in this blog multiple times because it is just so applicable to this very difficult Christian walk. If things were always easy, would we learn to lean on Jesus? No. How will we build our faith to maximum strength? By testing it. Or should I say, by having it tested. My mood might fluctuate, and sometimes I might wonder what God is doing and why, but there is no doubt in my mind that He is still in control.

I’m already wondering when school starts.

It’s terrible, I know.

As were most parents, I was excited when Jayden went back to school in September. Around February, however, my mood was changing just a tad. I was tired of packing lunches, ironing uniform clothing, keeping track of permission slips, gym shoes, school shoes, textbooks, which medications needed refills,  and being a living schedule book that was expected to remember each project due date, each assignment, each special assembly, lunch balances (my son drank a carton of milk each day and it wasn’t free, so we had to remember to put money on his account for that), etc.

Jayden has only been out of school since the 16th and my patience ran short with him and his little sister today and I am pretty sure it will be a pattern I will deal with over the summer. I even actually checked the school calendar to see when the next semester starts so I could begin my countdown. It’s awful, I know. But if they could get along the entire time they were together, I wouldn’t be having these second thoughts.

My older sister’s birthday is today, and while I listened discreetly as my two older kids bickered about something absolutely ridiculous, I had to appreciate the fact that she and I never argued about anything as kids. Never. My kids have their own rooms, while my sister and I shared a room until I was ten and she was fifteen, so for the life of me I don’t understand why, when they get tired of each other, won’t they SEPARATE from each other and go to their rooms and chill out for a minute! No, instead, they stay in the living room or whoever’s bedroom they are in and make little dumb comments to each other. As I mentioned, on several occasions I’ve listened in “discreetly”. Why? Because they like to lie on each other. When I go investigate the cause of an argument, unbeknownst to them I already know who did what and who said what. I just wait to hear it, and wouldn’t you know it, they lie on each other a good 90% of the time. So in addition to their stupid arguments over stupid stuff, I get lied to about it as well. Usually they both end up in trouble.

Speaking of birthdays, my sweet baby is ONE now! Her first birthday was yesterday, and I don’t think she could have cared less. The night before, Jayden and I worked feverishly to put together several desserts (my husband’s idea. Of course he comes up with the idea and doesn’t have to put in any of the work)–a Snickers cheesecake cake, a strawberry cheesecake cake, and an Oreo Surprise. The day of her birthday she woke up in a bad mood, having teething pain, and was in a pretty bad mood most of the day. Even with her party guests, she was in full diva mode, howling when just about anyone looked like they might want to even speak to her. It was pretty hilarious.

The most action we got out of her was when it was cupcake time. She dove into her cupcake and came back with two fistfuls of yum and wasted no time shoving them in her mouth. We were prepared for such a mess, so after the cupcake she changed into her second outfit of the day. While we were opening her gifts, I attempted to read her birthday cards as she sat on my lap. She was not interested nor impressed. She snatched each card out of my hand and flung it across the room. Now, the actual gifts themselves, she was happy with those, but the cards… what does a 1-year-old care about cards, you know?

Exhausted, the Birthday Diva fell asleep before the party was even properly over, and stayed asleep while the rest of us went to Layla’s t-ball game. She was late starting, and is just getting the hang of it, but what I like about her and her other little teammates, all of whom are around her age (5) is their willingness to learn and give it a go. When they make mistakes, they recover quickly. They listen to their coaches. They hustle. My son’s team, on the other hand (he plays baseball–it’s his first time ever playing on a team since we just really got his asthma under control) sometimes swing the bat like they don’t expect it to connect and run bases like they really don’t care if they make it there or not. I jokingly said perhaps they should practice with Layla’s team LOL.

I guess my patience with my older two monsters is short too because I am tired and in a ton of pain. I took a pretty decent fall this morning, and much to my chagrin, my husband heard it, came into the room and had to pick me up off the floor. But yet, nothing is wrong according to the doctors… Go figure. Regardless of what they (or should I say their tests) say, there is no way in the world I should be in this much pain every day at the age of 35.

I’m sure it’ll get better as we start doing more things to actually enjoy the summer. We do have things we intend on doing. Picnics, museums,  water parks, splash pads, etc. This week is our rest and relaxation week, and hopefully next week we’ll be doing more to get out of the house. Maybe then they won’t get on my nerves as much.

Maybe.

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(Never mind the lighter on the floor–we used it to light her little candle).

Isn’t she cute 🙂

The Divided States of America will continue to burn.

divided states of america

The “F” stands for “fiddlesticks”.

In all seriousness, today was a particularly disturbing and bloody day in America. As I’m sure you all have heard, there was a shooting in Virginia that resulted in Rep. Steve Scalise now being in critical condition and three other individuals wounded (not to mention the shooter is dead, but oh well); four people were killed and three injured at a UPS facility in San Francisco before the shooter turned the gun on himself (last I checked, no motive was given–I wonder if the shooter was a disgruntled employee, if he had beef with coworkers, or if problems at home had brought him to a breaking point. Not that any of those things are excuses); a man was shot in New York after some type of altercation; apparently the US is responsible for the deaths of countless civilians in Syria; and I am sure there are other instances of violence of which I am currently unaware.

You know what’s messed up about all of this? Twenty years ago, I think Americans would have been in some type of unanimous panic about the violence that has swept our nation. But now, we’re so divided among racial lines, along political lines, along socioeconomic lines, that we can’t even agree that there is a problem. As I perused the message boards associated with the miscellaneous articles about the chaos that was today, I was disheartened by the bickering taking place. The main theme involved conservatives blaming liberals and liberals blaming conservatives. I am beyond SICK of those two terms. To say I am SICK of them is actually an understatement. In most of the exchanges I could not tell if grown people were talking or if a couple of eleven-year-old boys were arguing. It was absolutely pathetic.

America was built on division. We haven’t yet overcome it, and we’re getting more and more divided. All throughout her painful history, in a struggle for power, there has always been one group pitted against another. I have not yet figured out all of the reasons why, but I can say the pursuit of power and money and this thing called capitalism are major players (honestly, would capitalism work as well if there wasn’t a single group of people that could be exploited??), but I can say the tone from our nation’s leadership has not helped.

In the Bible, we saw examples of how leadership affected the nation of Israel in particular. Each time Israel had a Godly leader, the nation enjoyed peace and prosperity. When they had an ungodly leader and fell back into idolatry and complacency, there was warfare, strife and suffering. See the parallels?

My mind is weary, so I’m going to attempt to watch something light-hearted and relax. I’ve got my feet propped up, as a new symptom has taken hold within the last few weeks–especially in the morning or when I’ve done a lot of walking, it feels like I am walking on broken glass. I don’t know what it is, but I am too fit to be tied with yet ANOTHER unexplainable symptom.

As I close for the night, I have to wonder how more people are not paying attention. The Word talks to us about this very thing. God has to be looking down upon us with major disappointment. I don’t think he is going to allow this humanity experiment to continue much longer. Second Timothy 3:1-5 tells us this:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Am I the only one seeing this manifest? Or how about this one:

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”  (Matt. 24:12).

Isn’t it obvious that these divisions arise because the love people used to have for others has grown cold?

I guess the question that I will ponder for the rest of the night is this:

How do we get it back?

America cannot continue on this path.

 

 

Love-Hate Relationship with Numbers

Not the book of the Bible… I actually like the book of Numbers, the fourth book written by Moses between the years 1440 and 1400 B.C. that documents the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites. What I am referring to is actual numbers.

Number one, I am not a math person. I don’t do well with mental calculations and I feel that makes me look stupid when I’m really not. I have always had a tendency to switch numbers in my head. I have never been tested nor diagnosed with dyscalculia (it’s like dyslexia but involves numbers), but I have always had a problem with number order. If I write a math problem out on paper, as long as I know what I’m doing I’m usually easily able to solve it. But I cannot do math in my head, and it’s gotten worse as I’ve battled this ever-present Mystery Illness (so the next time you’re in the store and you give a cashier more change than what they expected, perhaps you ought to consider the possibility of some type of learning disability before you berate them. I get sick and tired of older people assuming that folks are stupid because they can’t make fast mental calculations).

But my disdain for numbers comes from more than my poor mental math abilities. I’ve grown weary with how one’s success is measured by numbers. I’m sick of test scores, credit scores, income status, productivity measures, shoot I’m even tired of weight. All of these things mean nothing in the grand scheme of things but are taken to mean everything. And it’s stealing people’s joy.

With that being said, I understand WHY these things need to be measured, to an extent. I do not like all the testing that is done in schools; I do not feel that the tests measure children’s knowledge, since all schools in America do not have the same resources and all children do not learn or test the same. On the contrary, I can see the need for schools to do some type of testing in order that they may gauge a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses in order to craft them an appropriate learning plan based thereupon. I also understand that colleges and universities want to see some type of evidence that incoming students have achieved at least a basic understanding of the concepts upon which a college education is built. But I do not like this whole concept of credit in America and how it is used to keep lower-income people in the same bracket (can someone explain to me the point of charging someone who is already of lower means more interest? I understand they’re considered a higher risk, but does a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding one’s credit history truly appropriate? The only thing damaging on my credit report (in addition to the fraudulent charges associated with identity theft) are my ridiculous student loans. So I’m not creditworthy because I believed in the American dream as a naïve teen???). But I understand that one’s productivity at work is going to be measured. I understand that it IS important to maintain a healthy weight and BMI. But what I don’t like is how people have erased the concept of a person being a PERSON and hold people to numerical standards.

Personally, I don’t care if a person is 300 pounds (other than being concerned about their health), has a 500 credit score (other than the fact that that puts them at a financial disadvantage and to the extent that a Christian person IS supposed to pay his debts), or got an 800 on his SATs in high school. I care about who they are as a person and that their needs are being met. More importantly, God does not care about those things.  I know there are certain numbers that hang over my head every single day that give me pause–my weight, my credit score, that ever-increasing amount of student loans that I will probably never pay off. I know personally how these numbers weigh on my self-esteem. But at the end of the day, if I am doing something that benefits someone else, do they care about those things? Nope. Is God measuring my adherence to His commands with those numbers? Nah.

These kids are being impacted by numerical standards as well. They see tons upon TONS of information disseminated by social media on weight and body standards in particular. They are under tons of pressure to maintain a certain grade point average and achieve certain test scores knowing that their academic performance will make a difference on how much they may eventually end up paying for college (I just read that Congress is going to allow student loan interest to increase by 18%, and I was flipping furious).

Are we reminding them that development of their moral character is just as important? Are we focusing on their mental health as well? I suppose that is my major problem with these numerical standards–that people look at them instead of the person holistically.

Numerical deficiencies mean the world in today’s society, but in the kingdom of God, you are more than just the numbers that are associated with you. Regardless of whether you have the ideal body weight, the perfect credit score, the best grades, the highest productivity rate at your job, or the best test scores, God has given you some type of ability you can use to advance His kingdom. So don’t get bogged down by society’s measurements and standards. You are not mediocre in God’s eyes. And it’s okay to be average. All throughout the Bible we see God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. That should give us all confidence and erase the self-doubt this world can bring.

numbers hatred