My daughter came home from school today with a “Fifth Grade Blue Card.” Every student starts the week with 10 points and receives a reward if he or she can maintain 10 points through the week. If a student’s total is less than a perfect 10, there is a code on the card to tell parents why points were deducted. For instance, “NFD” stands for “not following directions” and “IB-R” means “inappropriate behavior in recess.”
As she pulled her card out of her folder, I thought I saw the word “Grace” in the heading. The stem of the letter “d” in “Grade” is faded, so it looks like a “c” instead.
And it struck me how very slight is the difference between “Grade” and “Grace.”
I spent many years trying to make the grade, so to speak. Trying to prove that I was worthy, likeable, and good. Seems that my life, for a time, was a picture of a see-saw between honor and rejection. In high school, I made straight A’s and honor rolls but was told that I wasn’t accepted into the honor society because of “LLP” – “lacking leadership potential.” (Okay, so it wasn’t put in code like that, but I took it upon myself as a label, and it’s taken a long time to remove the mental residue). And in college, the academic awards didn’t ease the sting of being rejected by my chosen sorority.
After years of this kind of longing for approval and being turned away, I began to reject the person in the mirror. The weight of my worth was measured by the scale. I couldn’t control what people thought of me, but I could control what I ate (or didn’t eat). To my hungry soul, anorexia was a twisted achievement.
The Fifth Grade Blue Card took me back there today. In my long journey of recovery, the stem of the “d” gradually faded away. As my eating disorder progressively became dangerous, God stripped away all of the ways that I had tried to make the grade. Now I just needed to survive. This became a process of learning to receive life and abandoning all efforts to achieve life. In this discovery lies the difference between Grade and Grace.
And grace in Christ is full and free. No measuring up. No rejection. No “NGE” (not good enough)code. There are no hints of check-marks or infractions. Grace satisfies the hungry soul with Christ’s hope, acceptance, and peace.
When you are tired of achieving, try receiving instead. God will give you the eyes to see “Grace.”