B+ Shimmies & Smiles: Learning to dance in your imperfections

It’s safe to say that the past few months of my life have been pretty chaotic. The pressures to be the perfect wife, perfect teacher, have the perfect house, and maintain a positive, approachable attitude has had me crumbling. I’ve felt the weight of being a constant disappointment not only to myself, but also to God. I’ve wrestled with the idea that he’s not a proud Father, unless I’m succeeding, until today, when I was reminded of the joy in the journey.

For those of you that don’t know, I am an 8th Grade English teacher. Oh how I love going to school and meeting so many bright faces, dream big dreams with my students, and believe they will one day achieve greatness. My students teach me so much more about life than I could ever teach them and it is in the midst of a day like today that I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I am very fortunate to teach a lot of students who for the most part enjoy coming to school. Now, they would never admit that out loud to you, but they do have fun.

For the most part, I watch students succeed in school on a day-to-day basis. They expect perfection out of themselves and I watch them beat themselves up until they get there. Right or wrong, who am I to judge as I have wrestled with the same desire throughout my life? Haven’t we all at some point had the same desperate desire to get a “100” in life? To have a 100 in our appearance, to have a 100 in the car we drive, to have a 100 in our spouse, to have a 100 in our house, and the list goes on and on. It is rare that I see my students celebrate the effort in knowing they gave it their all and tried their hardest.

I do applaud my students for always desiring to get better, but I think there is something to learn in the big moments that may seem so small.

Today I distributed the first test of the year in my classroom. There were typical nerves and anxieties, but there was one student in particular who will never know how he changed my perspective today.

This particular student is one who has wrestled with academic success in the past and it is not for a lack of effort. He struggles, but never gives up. This year this student is determined. He is determined to play the entire season of football; he is determined to leave everything he’s got, even if it means wrestling to get it right. He’s got the fight within him.

Since day one, I have seen this student make responsible decisions to place himself in a seat he knows he’ll learn best, to remove himself from a group he know might keep him behind, and choose to participate in class discussions at the risk of being called a nerd.

Today I watched his hard effort pay off.

All day this young man told me how ready he was for this test, he even did it with a smile. There was no fear in this young man. He was confident in his efforts. As I distributed the test, I watched this student cautiously approach each question. Once he finished, I was able to grade his test and call him up to receive his grade. I pointed to his B+ and said, “I am so proud of you.” He looked down at me with the largest grin, holding back tears and exclaimed, “That’s my grade? I did that?” His gratitude filled the classroom and my heart. As he went back to his seat, he whispered to himself, “I can do this. I really can do this.” He even did a little dance.

I cannot express to you how deeply proud and humbled I am to be this young man’s teacher.

As I sat there in amazement, I was gently reminded that this is how God delights in my efforts. He does not shake his head in disapproval for my B+. He rejoices and dances over me with loud singing. He is okay with me not being perfect. In my imperfection, I am reminded of how much I need him. I am reminded that I’m not home yet.

So today, I challenge you to rejoice and even do a little shimmy for your B+.

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