In the third grade you suddenly realize you are not amazing at every single thing you do. K-2 you are completely confident that you are the bomb. It doesn't matter what it is or if you've done it before. Any subject, any time you are the master.
Somewhere in the third grade your confidence shrinks. You suddenly realize that you may not be THE BEST at everything, you may not even be great at everything. So you don't want to try anymore. Why do something if you aren't sure you are going to succeed at it?
That is when your teacher introduces the concept of YOUR best. She tells you that as long as you do your best than that will be good enough. Your best, she says, is all anyone can ask of you. This mantra continues throughout elementary school, and follows you to middle and even high school. Just do your best people tell you, your best is always good enough.
When your ten this is true, when you are 27.....sometimes it isn't. In fact, sometimes, it is a big fat lie. When you are 27 and teaching a core subject at a high risk school, when your kids can't read and are expected to pass a standardized reading test at the end of next school year, when you are supposed to be a good wife, and mom, and teach like your hair's on fire. Sometimes, your best in one of those categories sucks. Big time.
Sometimes your best, is your best and it totally blows. People get disappointed, 18 year olds don't graduate, heck sometimes you totally screw your kid up. (I'm hoping that doesn't happen...) And what do you tell people, "Hey I know that blew and may have permanent consequences, but it was my best and Miss Pansy with the kitty-cat sweater told me that my best was good enough, so there you have it."
I guess that is where grace comes in. I have always understood that God's grace is sufficient to take away my sins. But somehow I have been leaving that sufficient grace on the cross, like some kind of cosmic get out of jail free card. If I use it now, I won't have it for later like....I don't know.....the final judgement. I am beginning to understand that my conception of grace is vastly inadequate. God's grace covers my inadequacies every single day. I don't have to be the perfect teacher or mother or wife, because God's grace covers me.
But having that sort of grace extended to me means I have the responsibility to extend that grace forward. When the guy in front of me brakes for no apparent reason, when my students act like idiots because they are 16, when people disappoint me. I am expected to understand that just like God's grace covers me, it also covers the people I interact with, and that covers me to.
So your third grade teacher lied to you. Sometimes your best is not good enough. But God's grace always is.
P.S. I applied for a dream job, one that showed up on my Facebook feed after I told God I would like to do X, could you invent that job for me? Thanks! Pray with me that God's grace will cover me and grant me favor even though I am minimally qualified.