“I just can’t sleep!” With red-rimmed eyes, tears still staining her cheeks, my 9-year-old daughter defeatedly shared, “No matter what I do, I just can’t shut off my brain.”
It was the third night my daughter wrestled with sleep. While this week had been particularly difficult, it was becoming a tradition that every few weeks—we would spend hours cuddling and calming down my daughter’s anxious mind and fragile heart.
Knowing her class had standardized testing the next day, I was not surprised when I heard the muffled sobs, followed by her showing up in my room. This school year had been a steep learning curve with the transition to numerical grades, classes divided by academic capability, and weeks upon weeks of goal setting, benchmarking, and comparison to classmates in numerous rounds of state testing.
I’ve worked to teach my daughter that we are not all on the same level academically, our gifts and talents are unique, and our skills are diverse. Tests and grades are wonderful tools to evaluate our current ability, pointing to areas of opportunity for growth and further learning. However, we must be careful not to let the numbers determine our worth.
Daughter, you are more than a number. A test score does not determine your capability to learn. A first-place ribbon doesn’t determine your talent.
A certain number of points scored doesn’t determine your athleticism. A number on the scale doesn’t determine your beauty.
The number of friends you have doesn’t determine your likeability. The more relationships you have doesn’t determine you are worth loving.
The amount of money in your bank account doesn’t determine your success. The number of clubs, groups, and organizations you are a part of doesn’t determine your value.
There will be many lies about your value and worth. You are not valuable because of what you do but because of who you are. Setting goals for yourself, working hard to achieve a dream, and acing a test are all good, but you don’t need others’ approval or validation.
Daughter, you are many things. You are wonderfully made. You are significant. You are more precious. You are valuable.
You are uniquely created. You have immense worth. You have a purpose. You are loved.
And always remember, you are more than a number.