Sometimes a number becomes too important.
In college, I was on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude. I only needed a 3.8. Unfortunately, I attended a university that factored minuses and pluses in the grades, rather than straight letters. I had no pluses-only some A-‘s. Those were enough to make me graduate with a 3.79 repeating. They didn’t round up.
At first, I wanted to justify that number to people. I looked back in regret at a couple A-‘s that could have easily been A’s had I done one thing differently. But after a while it occurred to me, “No one cares what my grade point was.”
My worth is far more than a number I achieved.
As our son heads into his senior year, we’re thick in the midst of standardized testing, the ultimate “judge you by a number” scenario. Our boy has studied hard, but the results haven’t been quite what he’d hoped. I thought back on my 3.79 repeating, and told him what I know, “You are more than a number.”
Everywhere we look, we are reduced to numbers: what the scale tells us, how much money we bring in, what our grade point average is, our time on that 5K, the number of our social media followers.
People use those numbers to assign value, to decide who’s in and who’s out, who’s worth their time. They use them to put themselves above others, to feel better about themselves, to claim a temporary space in the world.
But we are so much more than a number.
A number is just a snapshot. It is one picture in a huge collage of who we are. Most of those outward numbers represent transient, arbitrary, and superficial aspects of our lives. They can change tomorrow, for better, or worse. In a week, a month, a year, they will no longer be true. Or remembered.
They are a poor foundation on which to establish our worth.
Numbers do not measure how much we are loved. How well we love others cannot be quantified. They can’t measure our intelligence, attractiveness, importance, or character.
Numbers do not define what we give to the world. They do not define our gifts or passions. Our worth in the eyes of God is not weighed on a scale. Nothing adds or subtracts to any of that one iota.
Some numbers are necessary, for a time. That’s ok. Let’s hold them with a grain of salt, though, and remember that they do not name who we are. We are so much more than a number.