34-28-38 (and other tyrannical numbers)

15 laps

5 books

3.86 GPA

38 pageviews

402 friends

8 out of 10

300 hours of community service

40 job applications

10 countries

34-28-38.

There are days when my life is consumed with numbers, these numbers. Some of them make me happy, some make me… less happy. But they all have a strange allure that my mind can’t resist, and I go back to them, rehearse them, double-check them time and again because they are the easy way to get a solid answer to my heart’s unavoidable question: What is my worth?

Even when the numbers are not what I want them to be they are oddly comforting, because numbers to me denote cause and effect. The numbers tell me whether or not I have succeeded, and if today they spell failure I will work harder, work smarter, until the numbers are good enough. Until I am good enough.

This holds true also for those numbers over which I have little or no control.

(As a side note, I blame a major portion of this mindset on the public school system. I can barely remember a time when my success was not measured out of 100 by a mysterious but sovereign arbiter behind a desk.)

The numbers game is particularly alluring when I am winning, when I have a 4.0 and my size 5s are loose. Then I do it subconsciously; I glance smugly at the numbers and carry them around with me and if I feel scared or self-conscious I pull them out of my back pocket like a rabbit’s foot. I’ll even tell myself how “blessed” I am and far more often than I could count I forget to tell the Giver.

This of course becomes problematic when I’m in a slump, and that’s inevitably when I get affronted and shout at myself, shout at the world: These numbers don’t define me!!! But how could I expect to overturn so quickly a belief I had cultivated for so long? As long as it suited me I let it lie, let it soothe me, let it fester, until I was addicted to a shallow reflection of a lie called “success”.

I spend the evening with my dearest friend, who sees those numbers for the clutter they are; she pushes them aside, impatiently, and sees my heart and calls it “good”. And so I ask God to impress upon her, because she has shown me a glimpse, of
how wide
and long
and high
and deep
is the love of Christ for us.

For these things there are no numbers.

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5 Comments

  1. Daddy

     /  June 7, 2012

    2: Fathers who love you mor than you can ever imagine

    Reply
  2. Angie

     /  June 10, 2012

    I have no idea who you are or where you’re from, but your blog inspires me. [No Subject] is now bookmarked in the folder titled “intriguing” because your thoughts are insightful and your writing is wonderful. Thanks for contributing to the wonders of cyberspace.

    Reply
  3. Jacqueline in Atlanta

     /  June 11, 2012

    When I look back at what you have accomplished so far it isn’t numbers stuff, not even the biggies like top of the class and all that jazz. I treasure the day you “got” reading, when it clicked and you took off reading for real, never looking back. I treasure your laugh, the way you were always the first to reach out to new friends, no matter their color or size or shape or handicap. Your sense of humor has always been priceless. The public school system sucks at handing out measuring rods. You, my dearie, are A-OK.

    Reply

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