What Color is Grace?

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"What color is grace?" by Abby Watts (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2005), CC0/PD

What did teachers do before the color chart? When we were in school there was no moving your clip up and down. There was no “being on green or red.” We just behaved or we got in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hating on color-coded disciplining, because I definitely am not wise in the ways of classroom control, but gee, these colors are stressing my kid out!

My kindergartner comes home at least weekly and with a sad face says, “I didn’t make it to gold.” In case you’ve blocked the color chart out of your memory or have never experienced the ups and downs (literally) of this strategy, allow me to fill you in on this particular style. All the kids start on green. When they make a good or exceptional choice, they move up to blue, then silver and then GOOOOOOLD! If they make a bad choice they move down from green, into pink and then into red. God help my child if he ends up in red. Red = unhappy mama. If they get to gold I’m not sure what happens. Maybe they move on to the showcase showdown or win a pony or something.

While my sons are 21 months apart in age, the timing of their birthdays puts them just one school year apart, so it is super easy for me to compare them to one another. Lucky them. My older son is very much into rules and he only made it to gold once last year. Once. Meanwhile, my younger son, the current kindergartner, is a bit more of a social butterfly. I am not holding out much hope that he will make it to the top.

But, determined to give it the ol’ kindergarten try, the first time he voiced his concern, I suggested he ask his teacher what else he could do. You know, have a tiny-chair sit-down with her, mano a mano. The next day before bed I followed up — he decided he didn’t want to talk to his teacher about it. He just wanted to be sad that no matter how many times he sat still on his carpet square, silver was as high as he would see his clip go.

So I scooped my 5-year-old up and held him and said, “Look at me. YOU are always on gold in my eyes.” And after I tucked him in, I felt like I understood grace a little better.

Yes, I require much of my kids. At the least, I expect them to behave. But it’s not about what they have earned or how they have performed. It’s not about the number of times he has held the door or put his folder away without being told. His value is immeasurable. His value is the same on the day his teacher tells me he got reprimanded for trying to get a girl to kiss him (facepalm) as it is on the day she says he is the most fun kid in the class. I love him the same on the day he is sweet as sugar as when he is downright rotten.

This is Parenting 101, right? It’s also Grace 101. We don’t earn it. It’s not about performing or rising up the chart until God sees us. It can’t be lost because we slide down into pink or even phone-call-home-red.

Grace is in every color on that behavior chart because we are not measured. We are simply loved.

So listen to God when he scoops you up and says, “You, my daughter, are always on gold.”

P.S. This is the part of the article where I post an update that by the time of publication my son had made it to GOLD! Nope. Nada. Not yet. Still loved.


Copyright 2019 Abby Watts

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About Author

Abby Brundage Watts is a mother of two little boys. Since January of 2008 she has hosted The Big, Big House Morning Show on Spirit FM 90.5, the radio ministry of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida. The show mixes inspiration, humor and family fun (and great music of course)! You can hear Abby every weekday 6-10am, EST and online at www.myspiritfm.com.

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