The ink on her arm was faded, like time had eased the harsh edges of Nazi cruelty. The number, marking her as a prisoner of the Third Reich, had identified her for a thousand horrifying days and nights. Unaware of the scrutiny, she measured, marked, and pinned with efficiency. How must it feel to spend your life as a seamstress, dealing always in numbers? When the very skin stretching over your bones has been marked and violated by evil people who took everything from you, and left a number instead of your name…
“All done,” she stated briskly.
But it wasn’t.
Time, stretching lazy, ticked years away. The girl who heard the story of the Holocaust seamstress grew into a woman. Me. Whose daughter circled back innocently to a Pandora’s box, dusty and scuffed.
Her blue eyes narrowed, squinting dark lashes over chubby pink cheeks as she turned the page on her Ice Princess activity book. “Mama, what is 6 plus 3?” she asked, the squeak of her marker stroking the plastic pages interrupting her serious voice. I doled out the appropriate number of Tasteeos and we figured it out together. She’s a smart one, my Alaina. Already her affinity for numbers has me cringing, because math is definitely not my strong suit. And yet, numbers are such an integral part of every day life.
She will need to know how to add and subtract and multiply and divide, and maybe even use pi in her life. There’s the mortgage, the car payment, and the grocery budget to tally. And fractions will be needed to convert amounts in a recipe, dole out medicine to her children, and
avoid World War 3 equally divide treats among eager mouths.
But here’s where I hope she doesn’t use math.
I hope she never, ever uses numbers to tell herself or anyone else who she is.
Because I’ve done it. You’ve done it too, haven’t you?
Standing by helplessly while Satan is inking the blades that cut deep into our souls and brand us by our numbers.
IQ, salary, dress size, square footage, number of children, what we can produce, or do, or have…
Oh, the list can be long, but I guarantee it has always added up to one thing for me: ways I fall short. It makes me hopping mad…fighting mad that I’ve swallowed those lies. That Satan has the audacity to suggest that my worth comes from a stinking number.
What the Nazis could never take away, what no devil can steal is the truth. All the numbers in the world are nothing more than smoke screen for the gospel truth that your worth and mine is in a name.
The name of Jesus.
You, just you, and all of you are intrinsically valuable. He calls you His own, His beloved, His treasured one. He sings over you. Does that thought quicken your heart? His love for you has never been about anything you can tally or measure or count, but just because you’re His favorite. He likes you. He likes me. On the good days, and the bad.
I’ve been a gullible mess, wound up in numbers for years too long. But I’m wising up, and growing up, and I’m ready to get up and get over it. And I pray I’ll teach my girl all she needs to know about how and when to use math…
…and when numbers mean nothing at all.
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