There are always those things I have to remind myself at the end of every semester…grades are not eternal.
Now, it seems very self-explanatory. Of course, grades are not eternal. Inherently, I know this to be true. However, when it comes to the end of the semester, I seem to always find myself frantically checking every medium I can multiple times a day to see if I can find out what my grades are.
I don’t know why I do this when 99% of the time nothing will ever be updated. Yet I always, always do (even thought I tell myself “I don’t care how I finish as long as I pass). I mean, C’s get degrees, right?
However, no matter how many times I tell myself this, it doesn’t seem to make the difference. I tell myself I don’t care how I finish when in actuality I’m calculating to see if I will get the A or the A-. I tell myself C’s get degrees until I feel my heart stop at the thought of ACTUALLY getting a C (talk about nightmares).
I try, and I try, and I try, yet at the end of the day, I always seem to care tremendously about my grades.
I don’t say this as a bad thing. I highly encourage everyone to take their education seriously.
But I think of it this way – in Harry Potter (yes, I’m making a HP reference, bear with me here), Hermione’s boggart (a thing/creature that takes the form of what a person fears most) is failing her classes.
It seems silly doesn’t it? To have your biggest fear be failing your classes? But, as in most things, I feel like I can relate to Hermione so much on this one.
Hermione is defined by her education. She is the smart girl. The teacher’s pet. The one who always gets the questions right, and probably the one who is banned from answering questions because of that. I’ve been in the same position. I was always the smart one growing up. I was always the one who chose homework over hanging out with friends. I was the one who didn’t like getting B’s and especially not getting C’s. My freshman year of college I skipped football and basketball games (two sports I love dearly) to sit in the library and study Latin conjugations and the Communist Manifesto. My grades were everything.
College can be slightly different. After all, losing a 3.0 GPA could mean losing my scholarship. It was a little bit of pressure. But I remember having a freakout with my mom one day because I felt too close to the line, to which she reminded me as long as I never went below 3.0 I would be fine.
I knew all of this. I knew I was fine. I knew it was enough. Yet somewhere along the way, I convinced myself it wasn’t.
As I’m sure Hermione did, I became defined by my grades. Or more so, I let my grades define me. It was as if I lived in this fear that I would face rejection and loss if I didn’t do well in my classes. Almost like, I could only be accepted if I had a GPA acceptable enough to be on Dean’s List.
The pressure I placed on myself almost destroyed me at times.
I distinctly remember ranting at work one day, flat out freaking out about my GPA, because I had four A’s and two A-‘s. (It really wasn’t the end of the world). I showed my computer to my friend Kaelan and he basically gave me the “you need to shut up now” look, shortly followed by a sarcastic phrase of you’re kidding right? In the way only a best friend who also doubles as your big brother could, he looked at me and went “You do realize so many people would kill to have that GPA, right?”
In that moment, I was reminded of a Jesus Calling passage I had read one day. Funny how in moments God gives us exactly what we need to hear, and in this moment, this memory was exactly what I needed.
While it does not completely correlate to grades, there’s no denying the truth found in the text:
You are on the path of my choosing. There is no randomness about your life…[Most people] avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator.
It’s powerful. It’s the word of God. Along with the passage were the verses Luke 12:25-26 – “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matter?”
In these moments, I remembered how truly small I am, and how truly small my grades are. I work very, very hard for my grades. I make school a priority because education is important to me, and I value learning.
However, what makes grades not eternal, is that my grades aren’t what God uses to define me. God doesn’t love me based on how well I perform in school. God does not look at me and go “Oh…you couldn’t recite Cicero’s orations verbatim? Well that’s too bad.” If he did, well, things wouldn’t be too great.
As with most lessons in life, my grades taught me that my identity is found in Christ. That my Father accepts me, will never reject me, or leave me if I don’t perform top-notch in my classes. Because God’s love for me isn’t defined by my grades, it’s defined by what was done on the cross.
It is hard. It’s very hard. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love school. But school isn’t the end. School, in the grander scheme of things, is only the beginning. School doesn’t define who I am, my heavenly Father does.
I definitely struggle at times, but grades are not eternal. However, God’s love for me is.