My Life with God

You Are Not a Number

How many children do you have? How many grandchildren do you have? God has certainly blessed you!

Sometimes it’s a casual conversation. We ask people staple questions to get to know them and fill the space in our interactions. I’ve asked these questions myself. But I also have many friends who are pained by these questions. Unless you have been in that situation, you can only imagine and might even find yourself explaining away why people shouldn’t be so sensitive.

I’ve experienced a similar insensitivity when people number their children and grand children, and I’m not referring to answering a simple question or identifying birth order. I hear it primarily in the context of grandchildren.

This is number 3. Or 7. Or 11.

I don’t get it.

What difference does it make if you are my second or my 15th? You are my grandchild. You are more than a number. You are more than an addition. I know many people don’t actually believe they’re adding a number, but I think we do each other a disservice when we quantify people—whether it’s in our family or social media followers or church attendees. Of course, we want to reach more people. We want to connect with more people. But how are we doing with the people right in front of us?

Our relationships differs. Among a group of six friends, we’ll have different memories, connections, challenges, and inside jokes with each as an individual. The respect of differences is important. We can all get together and enjoy common ground, but it doesn’t mean we’ll all enjoy the same things or thrive under the same conditions. We don’t cater to each person, but we also shouldn’t put pressure and expectations on each person as if they must fall in line with the majority. We are better—and more valuable—than that.