One of my favorite things to enjoy as the mother of a pre-teen is the afternoon pick-up after school. I love when my daughter gets in the car, drops her backpack and exhales. It reminds me not to take for granted what she feels in my presence. Safe. Able to be real, vulnerable and herself after a day of perhaps showing only a mere version of all that she is. (The middle school years are hard for so many reasons, y’all. Nobody EVER remembers them as the best years of their lives!)
We’re only a few months into this school year, and my daughter is eager to make a good impression on her teachers. Throughout her school career, she’s been a very good student. She works hard, is organized, enjoys learning and earns consistent good grades.
Recently, though, she was really challenged by a math quiz. She didn’t achieve the high marks she’s accustomed to earning…and she was devastated. She got into my car that afternoon, and this time when she exhaled, it came out with a stream of tears. She felt like a failure.
She forgot who she was.
My heart shattered into a million pieces for her. I understood completely. I was exactly the same kind of student growing up. I can actually still feel this way as an adult sometimes. Can you?
I gently reminded my precious daughter that grades don’t define her. They don’t. Her identity isn’t just Ella, the good student. It’s so much more. SHE is so much more.
And, what, exactly, is a good student, anyway? I first challenged her to think about this question. Are grades the only thing that matter; the only substance of a student? No. Not at all.
We talked about all that embodies a good student — being a good listener, following class rules, being kind and helpful to classmates, proactively helping a teacher, submitting to authority, following directions, giving your best effort, participating, and encouraging others. A good student does so much more than get good grades. Other things they do matter too. Maybe even more, sometimes.
There’s the doing of a good student…
And then there’s the being of a daughter of God.
This is where our conversation really began to lift her. I could see that the burden was beginning to lighten, but I hadn’t really convinced her to fully let go. Not yet.
I had to remind her of who she is and whose she is.
In a sweet coincidence the same day, my Timehop displayed the above photo of my daughter from last year in her Sunday school class. Her wonderful teacher had been reminding the girls of their identity in Christ; who their Creator made them to be — regardless of circumstances, feelings or hurtful words that might say otherwise.
One year later on this day, I was reminding Ella of the same things.
She is loved. (Ephesians 5:2, Jeremiah 31:3)
She is beautiful. (Romans 10:15)
She is the daughter of a King. (John 1:12, 1 Timothy 6:15)
She is chosen. (1 Peter 2:9, John 15:6, Colossians 3:12)
She is forgiven. (1 John 1:9, Colossians 1:14)
She is valuable. (Luke 12:7)
She is blameless and beyond reproach. (Colossians 1:22)
She is a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)
She is complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
I spoke truth – God’s word – not my own opinion (which can be so easily dismissed) into my daughter’s heart, mind and soul. As we talked about each of these, I could see her shoulders lift and her mouth begin to crack a smile. She was taking it in and letting go of the lies that she had earlier held so tightly.
It was such a sweet moment we shared. What a joy to affirm my daughter in Truth that never changes, but that she still needs to be reminded of so often. Don’t we all need frequent reminders, really?!
God’s love for us is complete and perfect. It’s part of who we are, and what we can claim in him as his children. It never changes. Ever. We can’t do anything to be loved any more, and we can’t do anything to be loved any less. We just need to rest in being who God made us to be. His beloved.
We are always valuable and worthy.
Because God says so.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God will last forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
My sweet girl was lifted and grateful for the conversation, affirmations and snuggles. I thought to myself, this was good for me too. I needed to hear this just as much as my girl.
I think we all do.
You are precious. And you are the daughter of a King.