By Nicole DeVries
It happened again. I heard it, a small ding from my phone, the notification that an email had arrived. I open it and see the teacher’s name at the top. “Behavior Report” is all it says in the subject line. Not what I wanted to deal with today. Not what I want to deal with ever. What am I doing wrong??
My little guy, he wasn’t given the easiest lot in life. We were a GIRL family until he came along. Four older sisters mother him day in and day out. He had a pink car seat for goodness sakes. But he makes up for it, in so many ways. He is ALL. BOY. ALL. THE. TIME.
He stood on his chair in class, roughhoused with another boy in line at recess and got frustrated when his math page wasn’t perfect. He flipped his card. Anyone who has had a kindergartener on the card system knows: green is good, flipping to orange, not good. When you flip to red, you get a lovely little note from the teacher, the behavior report.
I never knew what these were until he started school. Maybe you don’t either. Be glad. Something happens in me when my child comes home with a behavior report. I immediately think it is a reflection of me, my parenting and ultimately my value as a person. I feel defensive, insecure, uncertain of myself. It’s ugly. To make matters worse, I am expected to fill in the section for parent comments, sign it, and return it to the teacher. I have this expectation of myself that I should know how to handle these situations, that I should have an answer and that I should be able to tell the teacher exactly how this will be dealt with. But this time I couldn’t fake it. (Let’s be real. I didn’t have the answers before.) So, I wrote on the parent comment section: I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know how to handle this or approach this or what the best solution is. Please help me figure this out.
And I felt pure and utter relief when I did.
I have learned that one of the things God is asking me to surrender is thinking I have to know it all, that I have to have the answers and know the solution. My life is so full of problems, things I don’t know how to sort out. These problems are too big and too messy to slap on a 5 step solution and think it will be effective. I can’t seem to sort them out, I can’t fix them. But He isn’t asking me to. He doesn’t say, “Come to me when you have all the answers.” He says, “Come to me when life is hard and messy, let me help you, learn from me, I will take care of your soul.”
Maybe your life feels hard and messy too. Maybe you are as frustrated as me that you can’t fix it and figure it out and wish you had the answers. Maybe that’s what we need to surrender. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Most of our problems, most of what feels hard isn’t going to be sorted out today. Or tomorrow. It may never be fixed. But I wonder if God isn’t using those hard things, those things that bring us to the end of our rope as a way of driving us to our knees. When we seek to fix it, solve it, know it all, we eliminate Him from the process. So let’s give ourselves, and each other, the freedom to stop saying, “I can handle this” and start saying, “I don’t know.” There is grace and freedom in that.