There are a variety of reactions students give when they see their grades on a test. They slump or cringe or smile or do a little dance. I go through most of those emotions after being around people. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but when I come home, after being in a social setting, I give myself a grade on every interaction.
Mostly I feel like I’m not very good with people.
Sometimes I get an A because I feel like I was a good listener to someone. Top score for reflecting the compassion of Christ, but this feels like a rare spike to the heights of relational success.
Sometimes a B for a quick interaction, but points docked for forgetting to ask how her dad was doing with his cancer treatment.
A C for superficiality or for interrupting. (I’m bad at interrupting.)
And a D/F for failing to connect with someone altogether. Or worse –for saying the wrong thing and hurting her feelings.
Am I ridiculously self-evaluative? Does anyone else do this grading thing after being around people?
None of us is really that good with people. Hence Paul’s command:
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV)
Maybe we could grace one another by curving the grade after every social interaction. You feel slighted because I didn’t talk to you much or didn’t listen to you well? Give me another chance. Oh please, extend grace.
We won’t connect with everyone perfectly every time we see them. Jesus didn’t.
“Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him.” (Mark 3:9 NIV)
I feel this deeply as a pastor’s wife. You cannot imagine how much I would love to sit down and talk for 20 minutes with every single woman who has come to church.
Social settings reveal the fruit of our walk with Christ, so a low grade shows where we need to pray and listen to the Spirit privately before our next outing. We can hunger for righteousness in our relationships, and, to quote William E. Hickson, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Well, time for me to shower and get ready to go to school where, in just a few hours’ time, I will interact with one secretary, several teachers, a few administrators, and almost 40 students.
May God help us patiently care for each other.