While sitting down with my son to look over his online gradebook, I noticed his stress ratcheting up every time he didn’t have a perfect grade. The few assignments the teacher had not entered yet were stirring up the reservoir of fear deep in his belly and with every word he grew closer to tears.
“I did that one.
I don’t know why it’s not in there.
I don’t know why my grade is so bad.
Mommy will you call her and tell her I did those papers?”
He had crossed into full blown ‘freak out mode’ in less than five minutes complete with hand wringing and a quivering bottom lip.
What do you say to a second grader in freak out mode over his grades? The fear of not doing enough was wrecking him. I took a chance and started talking about the math. I showed him how to calculate percentages and that the blank rows were not hurting him because they weren’t included in the calculation. Slowly but surely, we backed out of freak out mode back into normal kid mode. The wringing hands dropped to his side and the red puffy eyes returned to their normal size and color. The freak out was officially over.
I can guarantee he missed several of those assignments, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have to make them up.
You see, he reads several grade levels ahead of most of his classmates. Several times per week he leaves his room and goes to the Kindergarten classes to read to a small group of younger kids. Other times he goes to an older class to be part of their reading group.
He missed those assignments because his teacher told him it was more important to do something else.
At this point I wanted to laugh. Not at him, at myself because I go into freak out mode regularly. If I spend the day blogging, creating graphics, or planning ministry events, I don’t get everything else done on my list. I stink at keeping the kitchen clean and my husband graciously takes care of it on top of everything else he does. Sometimes Gary comes home from work to no dinner because I completely lost track of time. I connect not doing those things to being a bad mom, wife, and neighbor. I wring my hands. My eyes tear up and I need someone to pull me out of the mess I think I’ve made.
God sent me the perfect partner in life who regularly reminds me to do the math.
My husband frequently points out things I’m not doing don’t count against me. Sure they may be in my job description, but sometimes my teacher sends me ‘down the hall’ to do something else. If I trust God enough to go into that other classroom and learn the lessons they are teaching, why don’t I trust Him enough to put down the things I can’t get to?
If the drive to check everything off the To-Do List is keeping us from answering God’s call, then that drive it is most definitely not from God.
Perhaps you’re in a similar place. You feel God calling you to go somewhere or do something but it means letting go of something you’re already doing.
The good news is, there is a way out.
We can disconnect ourselves from the fear and guilt associated with doing a good job and start thinking about the math. You and I are not failures if we stop doing things God told us to stop doing. Even if they were good things that helped people. God gives you permission to change and grow into new things.
Where will you give yourself permission to let go?
Angela is a wife, mother of five, blogger and the founder of Broken, Beautiful, Bold. She is passionate about sharing her nontraditional faith journey through speaking, blogging, and facilitating small groups. Angela has been a nurse for nearly 15 years and holds a Bachelors of Biblical Studies from Indiana Wesleyan. Her short story “The Turkey Trail” was recently published in the short story collection “Naturally Yours: Stories About Indiana’s State Parks and Reservoirs” She also enjoys cooking, gardening, and exploring the outdoors with her family. Angela is available to speak to groups of any size about Broken Beautiful BOLD or her personal journey.
Connect with Angela online: