“No one is grading you.”
Those words echoed through my head recently, making me stop and regard them somewhat suspiciously.
I always thrived on grades. From the day I was handed a flag to carry for earning my middle school team’s highest GPA, they came to define me and I suppose I welcomed the definition. I always wanted to prove myself. I looked forward to geometry tests (proofs are fun people). I became physically ill before cross country races because I felt so much pressure. Looking back now, I see the pressure came from no one but myself.
I’m beginning to see how that pressure has translated into adulthood. The floor I haven’t had time to mop seems a direct reflection of my failures. The days that I feel totally overwhelmed seem a direct assessment and condemnation of my abilities to manage life. “How do I stop being so hard on myself?” I voiced to my husband on just one of those days.
I tend to roll my eyes a little when people tell me to love myself or be kind to myself because I think, in general, an abundance, not a lack, of self-love is our problem. And yet…there’s something there, something of Jesus offering his easy yoke, something of him telling Martha to stop hustling and bustling and just sit with Him.
Jesus was tough on those who were blind to their failures and gentle with those who saw them all too clearly. For the latter, the gospel comes gently, like a mother who picks up a too-tired toddler to shush them to sleep. It means the pressure is off. The test is over or rather, someone else was tested in our place. Now we aim for excellence, not to earn, but in freedom, because we are already accepted and approved.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe, but I want to believe it more in 2023. I want, as Peter commended, to stand firm in the true grace of God which tells us we don’t have to earn rest. It tells us God is just as glorified in our rest as He is in our labors. Maybe even more…because the one who can rest is the one who has marinated their souls in the gospel so much they know they’ve got nothing to prove.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you also need to intentionally leave the colossal mess in the kitchen to go bask in the sunshine because who cares? No one is coming to inspect your kitchen. Maybe you need to hear it too.
No one is grading you.