It’s just a number
I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my almost ten-year-old nephew this morning. In a houseful of people gearing up for a family vacation/reunion, a quiet conversation is rare. I’m so glad it happened. After exchanging pleasantries of “How did you sleep?” and “How did you NOT hear that storm”, my sweet boy revealed where his heart is at today.
If you ever experience quiet moments, you will “hear” much about a person’s heart, and at the very least, those things troubling their mind. So it was at Grandma’s table today. In between bites of banana bread, K explained that he was sad that he was in a level of swimming lessons below where he and his momma thought he should be.
What a precious moment for an auntie! I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe that God orchestrates the timing of where I need to be when I need to be there. Today was proof positive. I shared that I never finished swimming lessons at his age because I hated getting my face in the water. My husband shared that I still hate it which is why I use a snorkel all the time. I can swim for miles with my adaptation. I also told K that no matter what level becoming a strong swimmer is important (because it could one day save his life).
But this is where the conversation changed . . . as a teacher I have seen so much emphasis placed on numbers that I think it has filtered over into everything that our children do. Scratch that, numbers have become a filter in how we all see life.
Warning – this is a soapbox issue for me! Hear me roar!
To the student who didn’t score as well on the test: That number written on that paper or letter from the standardized test company doesn’t define who you are. It doesn’t define your future – no matter what anybody says. It may prevent you from attending certain universities, but given today’s economic climate, it might not. Even if it does, bloom where you land anyways. Remember it is you, and not the university, that is the product of which to be proud. I don’t know a single adult my age that goes around spouting their test scores, because frankly, nobody cares because that number isn’t what makes you successful. It’s just a number.
To the kid who works hard every day to practice, but doesn’t score the winning shot/goal/touchdown: The information recorded in the books is just a number. What you do matters. The old saying is true. There is no “I” in TEAM. Every member of a team is important. To me, numbers of assists always tell me more about your willingness to be a part of a team. I know it might not feel that way, but the skills (persistence, dedication, loyalty, perseverance) you learn from being a part of group are far more critical to your future development that what is written in the scorebook. It’s just a number.
To women everywhere who worry about the scale: With tears in my eyes, I am telling you unless you need that thing for medical purposes, go right now and THROW it out. I have so many friends that talk about losing those extra 10, 20, or 50 pounds. If you want to do that for you or your health, go for it! But if your motivation is because someone else’s definition of beauty doesn’t include those extra pounds, it is all rubbish! I am going to be honest with you. Your size matters much less than the character of your heart. Sometimes, I wish I could remove my eyes just so you could see what I see when I see you. I think you would be shocked if you did. All you would see is beauty! It’s just a number.
To those who focus on the calendar age: If you had nothing left to contribute, God would have taken you home already. There is a reason for your being here. I know you may not be as spry as you once were, but I am not looking for spry. I like many other women are looking for mentors to love us, to remind us of God’s truth and promises, and to share with us your life (including mistakes and wrinkles). That matters! Even if the world standard is newer, faster, or stronger, I have found more quiet strength in sitting hand-in-hand with eighty and ninety year olds than anyone could ever imagine. Age – It’s just a number.
I didn’t give my little nephew the full brunt of this rant, but I did ask him three questions.
- Does which swimming level you are in define who you are?
- Does which swimming level you are in make us love you anymore or any less?
- Does which swimming level you are in change that you are loved child of God?
Sitting there with bedhead hair and Angry Birds jammies, his twinkling eyes told me he knew the answer to all three. I pray every day that all the world will know that while numbers are fun (for some of us), for much of life, they are just numbers.
Thanking God today for banana bread and little boys.
PS – By the way in God’s eyes, you are absolutely, positively one of the best “numbers” He’s ever created!