living with a 92%…

My son came home sobbing yesterday.

“I can’t do it again, mom. It’s not fair. I missed one problem on my Math test… one problem, and she’s making me take it all over again. And she said it would be harder … 28 problems instead of 12. I made a 92%, and it wasn’t enough, mom. I can’t do this.”

He kept repeating the phrase as he collapsed onto his bed in a heap of tears.

“One problem… one stupid problem.”

It was then that I had a problem… an angry kind of problem. A problem that wasn’t going to work itself through quietly. This time, I would not ignore the injustice. This time, I would speak up on behalf of my son and his diligent efforts at trying to “make the grade”… his grade … the fifth grade.

Jadon has a learning disability, not unlike many of his peers. It’s been difficult to adequately diagnose his issues over the years. Some term it dyslexia; others ADHD. Still others, a combination of both and then some. I’m not convinced about his labels. There doesn’t seem to be one that accurately describes his problem. Consequently, I spend a lot of time trying to educate his teachers about how to best educate him. This learning process, both for him and them, doesn’t always flow smoothly. Case in point? Yesterday’s debacle.

We’d spent a lot of at-home hours preparing for this Math test. Angles, parallel lines, polygons and the like had been on the after-school menu for several days. S.E.V.E.R.A.L. D.A.Y.S. Those of you who have kids with similar issues get this one. No small amount of blood, sweat, and tears were shed in preparation for this test, not to mention all the other tests that are being crammed into these final days of the nine weeks. Accordingly, we would have been happy to take our 92% (yes, I said “ours” as this learning process is a collective effort) and walk away with a smile. Instead, Jadon’s achievement was met with disapproval and with his tears as he realized, yet again, that a 92% was not enough to appease his teacher’s expectations. Those who scored a 100% received a pass on a second test; those who didn’t score perfectly will sit for another try at it this morning.

And I am angry. Not because there isn’t merit in trying to do better (especially for those who bombed the test) but because a 92% is Jadon’s better and should be celebrated rather than diminished.

Is this where it begins, readers? When did we start believing that our 92%’s aren’t good enough? Did it start in our younger years at school? Maybe even earlier in our homes when the beds weren’t made perfectly, the toys weren’t organized correctly, the dishes weren’t rinsed properly, the clothes not folded correctly? When did our best efforts at living life, accomplishing life, become not good enough? Further still, who gets to make that determination?

I’ve spent my lifetime feeling the weightiness of my 92%’s. Rather than celebrating my achievements, I’ve languished in my desire for perfection. Rarely have I been satisfied with the outcomes of my efforts, and there have been others who’ve been all too willing to agree with my personal assessments. There have been times when a 92% just didn’t cut it.

As a daughter.
As a sister.
As a student.
As a wife.
As a preacher’s wife… twice.
As a mother.
As a friend.
As a writer.
As a homemaker.
As a teacher.
As a speaker.
As a patient.
As a survivor.
As a Christian.

Time and time again, when my best efforts didn’t warrant personal celebration. Times when I was forced to take a second test, a third one, in hopes of getting it right, making my grade, all the while choking through my tears,

I can’t do this … it’s not fair. One stupid problem … one stifling obstacle keeping me from a 100%. I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not spiritual enough to past this test. My learning disabilities are preventing my perfection.

Perfection. Isn’t it time we move past our notions regarding our 100%’s and start living in the realities of our 92’s? Sweet ones, hear me on this one. Our perfection is coming. Each day that we live with Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit as our compass, we move further along in the process of our perfection. From glory to glory, one beautiful, God-shaped step at a time. We’re getting there, being conformed into his likeness with every deliberate faith-filled choice we make and with every heaven-filled grace we’re given. We’re getting there. But, until we do, wouldn’t it be gloriously freeing if we could celebrate our best efforts … our 92%’s? Why must we continually force an expectation on ourselves and others that is impossible to achieve on the front side of heaven?

Would it be alright for us to celebrate the gains today rather than to unnecessarily focus on our almost’s? Is one stupid problem tripping you up and limiting today’s effectiveness, today’s joy? I know that we should always strive to be and to do our best, to be God’s best. To tell you to live lesser would be a false teaching and not in line with biblical standards. But when our best levels at a 92%, couldn’t we just acknowledge that achievement with joy and call it a win? Call it enough?

I don’t know what test you’ve recently scored a less than perfect grade on. I don’t have to look too far back in my history to find mine. But as I see it today, I’m willing to afford some grace to the situation and to realize that all is not lost with my 92%. In fact, there’s been some great gain because of it. I’m not perfect, not yet, but I’m closer today than I was yesterday, and so are you.

Give your best at living life today. Give it all in the name of Jesus Christ, and then let it be enough. A 92% in God’s book is pretty darn close to glory. Keep to it, friends, knowing that the grace of God is working in your heart and life to finish you home perfectly. Look toward that end while taking the time to celebrate the progression. I love your 92% and so does our Father. As always…

Peace for the journey,

22 Responses to living with a 92%…

  1. Oh, Elaine. My blood is BOILING too. CRAZY – but what a lesson. We CAN'T be perfect – yet. Living in my 92% right now.

  2. We live in an age where we need to organize people in neat categories…92%–50%–65%…that will define 'success' in our world…and people who do not 'think' through just apply 'rules' uniformly to people created not to be uniform but diverse in giftedness…what follows that based on one uniform measure, millions of 'otherwise-expressions- of-intelligence' are discarded and negatively labelled in flawed percentages…
    ..but viewed through God's eyes…we who have been redeemed are ALL 100%…because of Jesus in us..that's what God sees…

  3. With sin it came. Paradise Lost. Perfection a distant albeit nagging shadow. It haunts me still, this perfection business. God's grace IS enough, but the realization of grace dawns dreadfully slow on some of us – or so it seems to me. (Don't know WHY that is.)

    The higher the grace shines, the shorter the shadow of our imperfections. Meanwhile we groan, awaiting the day when faith shall be sight.

    I'd like to think this perfection thing wouldn't plague me all the way to the grave, but it might. But so will grace.

    Wish there was a trap door with a magic button to activate it and get rid of it once and for all. If you know what the "magic button" is, LET ME KNOW.

    Poor child. And how it stabs a parents heart! The whole thing reminds me that I've had my share of 92%. Sometimes it is grace that I've been given the chance to try again.

  4. I'd keep him home & pray until I could talk calmly to the principal 😉
    Seriously, I feel you, sister. Just had the discussion with a loved one, an A is an A and your best is what really matters. There is GRACE for the other 8%!!
    Love you my survivor sister 🙂

  5. my mom used to get ANGRY with our teaches, too…
    she didn't believe in pushing a child with pass/fail tactics
    we didn't get the second chances

    i'm very proud of your son's 92%…and I wouldn't have a problem with his taking a second test, as long as his highest grade counts 😉 Hope she's not one of those that averages both tests.

    Praying he's on to more fun things soon; enjoying celebrating with you and his family the joys of family and Christ's presence in your lives 🙂

  6. What is important is our heart. When we give our best (no matter what number that is) to the Lord, He is pleased! Sometimes trying to be perfect takes away our creativity and uniqueness! God has created us each differently but loves us just the same! I for one am so relieved to know that! Blessings to you this Christmas and always!

    Living for Him, Joan

  7. I love the way you turned this into a lesson…but I'm still stuck back at 92% on a grade 5 math test not being good enough! What is this teacher thinking?? What is she trying to do to these poor kids' hearts? Thanks for reminding me why I homeschool my kids!

  8. What? 92% isn't good enough. I'm so glad that God isn't like that teacher.

    Always praying for you, Elaine.


  9. Please tell me you said something to the teacher or principal!

    As the parent of a dyslexic daughter, I know what it is to have to fight for her every step of the way (which led us to homeschool her from sixth grade on).

    The spiritual lesson isn't lost on me and I will contemplate on it. But like some of the others, I'm still stuck on the fact that a 92% wasn't good enough.

  10. Thanking God that in our weakness He is strong. That He perfects that which He created. Love to you!

  11. I hope Jadon has recovered some by now. My heart sure goes out to him — and you! 92% is great in my book!

    I tend to be pretty hard on myself so the lesson is a good one for me. I should be telling myself 92% is pretty darn good.

    You guys hang in there! Hugs!

  12. "Would it be alright for us to celebrate the gains today rather than to unnecessarily focus on our almost’s? Is one stupid problem tripping you up and limiting today’s effectiveness, today’s joy?" Yes we should, and yes it is but shouldn't. I have to say, as a former educator (and teaching will always be a part of me)this really bothers me. God gifted us differently. Jadon's gifts might not be getting 100% on tests, but I had students who got straight A's but needed a big dose of humility. I had some students who struggled to get C's but were my best helpers. I'm sad that this teacher does not realize that he/she is communicating to your son that he is a lesser human being because he didn't get 100% I'm sure that is not the intention, but it is the message all the same. Good grades are not the most important thing in life (and that's coming from a teacher).

  13. This really upsets me sweet sis, I agree with you totally on this subject. I am so proud of Jadon, 92% is awesome. Believe me, I am far from 92%, but God loves me, just as I am.

  14. I can't tell you how much I needed to read this today Elaine. Trying to be perfect wears me out! I'm tired to the bone and I'm not doing it any more. 92% sounds wonderful to me. 🙂 blessings, marlene

  15. I am very upset thinking about this teacher! Since when did ALL children HAVE to make a perfect score????? She must have some problems herself! OK…sorry!

    When I was in about 3rd grade I made my first C on my report card. It was in "arithmetic" and always before I had made straight A's. My Mama called me to her chair as she looked over my report card. This is what she told me: "If a C is the best you can do, then I'm just as proud of it as I would be an A !" I have never, ever forgotten that !!! What a wise women she was. I think I probably wasn't trying as hard as I should have been and brought the grade up next time but I most likely would not have even tried if she had told me how "stupid" I was or something like that!

    Elaine, I'm so sorry this happened. On your son's account and on your account also. Sending a hug to each of you!! 🙂

    God bless you my Friend!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  16. This is so upsetting on so many levels I'll type as little as possible. I will say, however, what a wonderful time for your son to learn the mercy and grace of Christ through you. Bless your little guy's sweet heart. I'm proud of his 92!

  17. I totally get this. I dropped out of college when I got my first "B". And I think it was 92%. WHO DID THAT TO ME??? Don't let this happen to your son. If he did his best, he deserves copious praise. If he didn't do his best, he still deserves praise and encouragement for progress, not perfection. Oh it is so hard to be a mom sometimes!

  18. Perfection or the need to walk in it has destroyed many lives and for some it has greatly limited or diminished the abundant life Christ died that we would have. I don't believe in perfection other than the Perfect One that is Christ. I'm saddened and sickened over the reaction of the teacher to push your son to this point. 92% is an awesome grade and I say well-done to your son!

    Many of us can relate to parts of your message Elaine. I have certainly been on the receiving end of not meeting the expectations of people and to be honest that is in the on-line and off-line world. The Holy Spirit reminds my heart to continue to be a seeker after GOD and to be pleasing to Him for His ways of looking at me NEVER resemble the view points of people. He loves me (and your son) with an everlasting love that is not connected to conditional love but rather unconditional (Agape) love.

    It's a love that says, we are more than enough. We are His!

    I said a prayer for your precious son and to his 92% I say congratulations and way to go!!!

  19. What a horrible message to give a youngster – that anything less than perfect isn't acceptible. Even God doesn't ask that of us.

    My youngest son had many a learning disability. Some was due to his social bent & academic aversion, but much of it was due to some sort of learning disability. We wondered if ever he'd graduate (he didn't); or if ever he'd get a job (he did). Today he is a District Manager for a national flooring company and doing VERY well. I want to call all the old teachers and say, "Neener, neener, neener …". Then again, that might not be the Christian thing to do 🙂

    Great post, as always. You're just keepin' it real, Elaine; I love that about you.


  20. I hope you took time to talk to that teacher. That teacher wounds your son in a way that Satan really wanted to, a cursing of his identity, writing the message on his forehead, "No matter how hard you try you are still a failure." And that just makes my blood boil. Cause that is the very kind of wound that never gets healed… it is an emotional wound and … yes, go and tell that teacher what you think!

    92 is very very good… I hope she sees the point, or what is she a teacher for?


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