Friday, August 10, 2018

It's hard to be happy for others when you don't fully believe that you are perfectly known, loved and accepted by God.

As my classmate celebrated the joy of having the highest score in class, I genuinely smiled and congratulated her. I connected with her happiness, but only for a minute.  I wanted to be thrilled for her but worry was taunting me that I'll never measure up. My hands turned numb as I waited for my name to be called. Why am I worrying like my life depended on this?  Will it really matter if I get a lower score compared to others?

I kept reminding myself to be content with whatever I'll get because I am fully aware that I honestly did not study hard for the test. As my name was called and the teacher handed my paper, I looked at it and my heart sank."I was right, I'll never measure up. I'm not smart. I can't do it," I thought. I felt a heaviness on my chest as my teacher told me I needed to improve. I plastered a smile pretending to be positive but deep inside I felt shame; shame for how my teacher looked at me, shame for my silence when my friends asked how much I got, shame for the envy and disappointment sprouting in my heart. I walked out of that classroom praying that God would take away this unpleasant feeling and replace it with His peace. As I waited for my ride home that night, I reflected upon the situation and here are a few things God impressed on my heart:

1. A piece of paper  doesn't dictate who I am.

An exam can test the amount of information I have learned and how I can apply it, but it doesn't and it will never dictate who I am as a person. That piece of paper doesn't know that I love Jesus. It doesn't know the little things about me. It doesn't understand what I live for. It can never show the truth of who I am. I am not a score. I am a person that God uniquely crafted with skills, knowledge, attributes and traits that a piece of paper can never contain; that a number can never measure. I remember reading this quote and it has stuck with me through the years:
 "Grades can tell you one thing, but they won't tell you everything. There are different ways of being smart."

2. It doesn't matter what others think.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
 If I am trying to win the approval of people instead of God, then I put them above His place. Others will always have a mouthful of words to say, but opinions aren't always the truth. The truth is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God. (Psalm 139:4) I am fully known and loved despite of my grades. 

3. Whatever you  do work at it as working for the Lord.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

It's easy to be negative. It's tempting to blame my teacher, but the choice lies with me. I can choose how to react. I am aware that I did not do my best for the test, and even if I did, thinking about it as working for God wasn't on my mind. I did not think of it as using my brain to gain knowledge that I could use for His glory. I studied it with the intention to lazily get it over with. It's alluring to let myself fall in the bottomless pit of  disappointment and craft ways in order to punish myself for not doing well, however, "A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22  I can make a choice to stay positive, to thank God for an opportunity to see His work in me, to trust that I can find my strength in His grace. 

After all, Jesus said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

4. Look in your own bag.

If I stop for a second and think: Assuming I didn't see and know about my classmates' scores, will I feel this bad about myself? I don't think so. My thoughts would rather be directed towards doing better next time. However, since I saw their scores, I ended up believing that I was the dumbest person in the world. I was dissatisfied because I did not earn the same score as others. I focused on comparing instead of being grateful to God that I passed. I let disappointment rule over me instead of allowing God's peace to reign over my heart. Several years ago, I learned this concept of looking in your own bag to stop comparing, from Nicole Unice's book, She's Got Issues. If I focused on my own bag and looked at what I got, I would be able to process the situation, accept it and have a positive attitude that with the Lord's help, I can still improve. But because I compared, it stole my joy.
"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt
If I was grateful to God for my score, I would have had the heart to be genuinely happy for others and celebrate their victory.

Nevertheless, even though it was an unsettling feeling I praise God for it. In the midst of my envious and discouraged heart, He offered life lessons for me to grasp and meditate on. God is good all the time. Even in my lowest, He is there. In His arms I am welcomed, I can come as I am. I don't need to measure up and achieve the trophy of success in all areas of life in order for God to love me. I don't have to pass a test for Him to love me. I don't even have to do anything. I can't earn it. It's already there. Of course this doesn't mean we ought not to strive to do our best in school, but rather we should have the right mindset: work at it as working for the Lord and not for men. Let's have faith to trust that God is with us even on the days we feel we don't amount to much.

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Hi, it was a joy reading your post! This reminded me of the days I was in college, and how I felt being an average student, and the humble realization that all those things are irrelevant now, and only that matter is me relation with Christ, Sara @


Hi Sara! Thank you for sharing your experience. Yes I agree that's the only thing that matters most. 😊


Great takeaways! Timely lessons! Thanks for sharing! Joining you from Blessing Bloggers.


Thank you for the positive comment, Ruth. I appreciate it.


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