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If you’re anything like me, then this phrase might provoke uncomfortable feelings of conviction. A naturally type-A perfectionist, the transition from high school to college handed me a lot of tough lessons to swallow. I suddenly found myself in classes where no matter how hard I tried, the material simply did not soak in. And instead of giving myself the grace to understand that I am not required to thrive in every area of life, I found myself spending countless hours stressed, frustrated, and making no progress in understanding anything I was expected to learn.
Now let me preface this by saying that perfection in our earthly human form does not exist, nor are we capable of reaching that point until the other side of Heaven. So this post is for all my fellow perfectionists, the ones who maybe live beautiful lives knowing how to extend grace to everyone but themselves.
Having finished my freshman year of college and now leading into the beginning of my sophomore year, this is what I have realized:
You don’t have to be good at everything; He truly has created you with specific gifts that will allow you to do good work. As you lean into this beautiful truth, you discover that the things you’re good at and what you’re passionate about tending to intersect. The Bible states on several occasions that He will bring to completion the good work that He has begun in you. I firmly believe that good works begin with a desire to do good for the kingdom. So what does that mean? The desires that are planted in your heart and the passions you have, are put there by God both as a gift for your enjoyment and as a gift to the world for you to serve Him through those things.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23
Translating that to your studies, my interpretation of this verse is that you can glorify God even through your schoolwork by doing it with the intention of bringing Him glory through your efforts. God does not expect you to be perfect. However, He does ask that you honor Him by putting 100% of your heart into everything you do and to do it with Him in mind. He longs for the very best of you. Not the best of the kid who knows all the answers to the teacher’s questions, or the one who always seems to have more creative and more profound ideas than you. Precious and dearly loved by God, you are not defined by the things you do or do not achieve. You are perfected in the presence of our Heavenly Father, not under the weight of your shortcomings. I know this mindset is more easily said than done, so I want to leave you with a few tangible ways to keep your faith and your morale in the midst of struggling through school.
One of the practices that absolutely changed my perspective on school was inviting God into the space of my studies. No longer was God a separate compartment from school, rather He became intertwined with it. As you invite God into more and more areas of your life, He begins to reveal to you His perspective on those things. When I began to pray in the middle of cramming for tests, in writing papers, and during readings I was less than excited about, a crazy thing began to happen- spending time with God, even just a few minutes in the Word and in prayer, made my work easier and more enjoyable because it pulled me out of my stress and into God’s presence.
“When my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2
Creativity, understanding, and perseverance as you work, flows from an awareness of God’s presence in the room because His perspective is so much higher. As you look to Christ’s mind rather than solely your own, He partners with you in getting through the task at hand.
Spending time at my teacher’s office hours for Calculus and working on grammar concepts with the Italian tutors were some of the smartest things I’d ever done for my studies because putting in the extra time and work in a one-on-one setting was what I needed to keep from feeling lost in classes. Don’t be ashamed, frustrated, or immobilized by your areas of weakness in school. My advice? Take advantage of the resources offered to you. Go to your teacher’s office hours. Attend that SI session. Work with people in the tutoring center. Ask the students who know what they’re doing to form study groups with you. Tackle your weaknesses head-on because they’re not going anywhere if you ignore them.
God doesn’t care that you haven’t arrived at perfection. In fact, the gap between you and Heaven gives God the space He needs to grab you by the hand and lead you to it.
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