FAITHFUL LIVING: Give yourself a 'Godly' report card

“I can’t believe you and dad have kept so many of your old report cards!” our son exclaimed this week as we sorted through childhood mementos stored in boxes reclaimed from our attic.

By the time we reached those report cards I was exhausted, stuffy from all the dust and overwhelmed. After all, I had spen thours sorting through not only childhood boxes, but items sent to the attic during our 23 years of marriage — items, mind you, that I honestly believed I could not possibly get rid of. When the report cards were retrieved I was tired of deciding which items would stay and which would be garage saled. I happily stopped to grab a cup of coffee and take a closer look back at my own school days.

“Let’s see here,” I told Daniel,” this one was prepared 37 years ago and my teacher was Mrs. Young. That was the year we hatched chicks in a portable incubator set up in the corner of our classroom.”

I had not thought about second grade in a very long time. But suddenly a flood of once misplaced memories came back to me. The best was remembering how my friend Dolores stroked the heads of all those tiny chicks. She was blind and her fingers provided a tactile vision we sighted children would never experience.

The saddest memory was watching Mrs. Young cry when she learned that her smart, athletic son had been suspended from attending high school for a few days after punching a classmate in the face. She had hugged me tightly when I expressed concern over her tears. My dad, the high school’s vice principal, had ordered the suspension. I may have been a tender 8-year-old, but I instinctively understood that kids can sometimes break their parents’ hearts.

While relishing a few private images I thought were long gone, I switched back to the topic at hand — progress reports. It’s amazing how little has changed.

My report cards looked much the same as my childrens’ do. The progress children are making in such foundational areas of education as reading, written communications, mathematics, social studies, science, music, art and physical education are still being assessed, just as they were for me nearly four decades ago.

But that is not all such report cards contain. Work habits and social development is assessed as well.

It made me think that report card time is a perfect time to evaluate our own living habits and social behaviors.

The school system automatically places children in a quarterly assessment program, and wise adults will model the process. They will apply the same expectations, self-evaluate with honesty and take a step toward self-improvement in those areas needing growth.

Are you game?

Do you solve your own problems constructively? Do you use your time wisely? How well do you follow directions? Do you listen attentively? Do you complete work assignments on time? Do you go about your tasks neatly? Can you work without disturbing others? Do you take care of materials and supplies? Do you work and play well with others? Do you problem solve well? Do you accept and respect authority? Do you obey rules and actively participate in group activities? Do you set goals and move consistently toward those goals? Are you honest and honorable?

It’s a fairly intimidating list but a good one to work through as we manage our lives. Most of all, our answers will likely serve to raise our own levels of behavior. If, for example, you have a problem with listening, or know yourself to be constantly critical, what improvements can you make?

As always, I am encouraged by faith and the practical ways we can apply it to our everyday lives.

Unlike the animals around us, we have the ability to reason and persevere even if it is difficult and does not feel good. We can value self control, integrity, character, morality and ethics. We can live with purpose. We can be faithful.

Courageous people around us can model and affirm such behavior in ourselves. But the only eternally consistent source is God: He outlines foundations and universal laws. He provides the strength we need when being a remarkable human seems too difficult. And when we fail, He offers us both forgiveness and another chance.

In the Bible’s book of Psalms we read,

Investigate my life, O God,

Find out everything about me;

Cross-examine and test me,

Get a clear picture of what I’m about;

See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong —

Then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Let us meditate upon these beautiful words and prove to be strong students of faithful living.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is

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