Minus Marks

Another teacher email. Another assessment. Another session of extra help. I scratched my head while feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and weary throughout many of the conversations that school year about my child. This particular kid came home with their final report card. It was clear that she could care less about the markings on it. When she handed it over, this momma held her breath, not for fear of failure, but weariness thinking of the extra summer work that would need to be done to keep our child from falling behind.

When I picked up the report card, I immediately noticed several minus marks. Then I read some words of encouragement from her sweet teacher: “Keep at it.” Cue the puddling of tears in my eyes. 

Keep at It

Can I be honest with you for a moment? In that moment, I did not want to keep at it. I wanted to throw in the towel and let this child just skip school all together. It’s hard. It’s complicated. It’s taking a lot of effort on my part. I wanted to call it a day – actually, I wanted to call it a life and say thanks anyway.

As I sat for a moment in my own pity and weariness, I gently felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to turn my eyes instead to the pluses and grade increases in other subjects. Yes, there were pluses alongside the minuses, but initially I didn’t focus on those. Instead, I immediately thought about the heavy load I bore. Yet, as I considered those plus marks for a moment, I heard the Holy Spirit repeat the teacher’s words, “Keep at it.” 

This was a direct message for me because I needed the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to keep at it. I can spend an incredible amount of time allowing the devil to highlight all of my low scores and minus marks. I crawl up into a corner and agree with everything he has to say about my lack. I overly fixate on them. I get anxious over them. I construct game plans in my mind on how I will conquer them all. That’s what we are supposed to do, right? I mean, how else do you get better?

The Marks that Matter

But in that moment of holding the report card, the Holy Spirit didn’t mention anything about my lack, He invited me to keep at it. 

He encouraged me to “Keep trying, keep moving forward, keep improving.” That phrase has a deeper meaning too. “Keeping at it” would indicate that when you do “keep at it,” you will make it, you will improve, you will excel.

That same invitation the Holy Spirit shared with me that afternoon extends to you.  Keep at it! Keep asking the Lord to show you what marks matter. What would He have you to keep working on? What subject would He have you focus on right now? We can’t master it all, but we can look to One who has mastered it all.

A Prayer to Keep At It

Teacher, I come before You today to ask You to help me be a good student. You are so committed to the position of teaching Your children. Your expectations for us are dependence, weakness, surrender and yielding. Would You help me depend on you today to learn something new?  Teach me something that only You are capable of teaching me. Lord, when I grow weary in my studies would you lean in and whisper, “Keep At It!”

Thank you, Abba, for the gift of learning and for the gift of growing. I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.


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