It’s a Sunday afternoon, and while I should be diligently working on my final, I’m blogging. I’ve procrastinated on this post for a while now, but I finally had a moment of clarity in how to accurately explain what has been going on this semester. (I know—procrastinating on my final by not procrastinating on this blog post any longer. Oh, the irony.) Wednesday, I will officially be done with my seventh semester of college, with only one more to go. And this semester has been the hardest. Now, people who have heard me say this in the past few months tend to look at me strange, knowing what a busy life I lead and that I’m infected with the “overachiever disease.” But this has really been the hardest semester yet.
The past four months have challenged me more than I ever dreamed, and put me in positions where I didn’t have all the answers. The past four months have been a season of discovery.
Academically, the stakes are higher. Professionally, I am in a position where I not only make the decisions, but also have to be the voice for a collective group of people. Emotionally, my heart’s been pulled in all different directions. Spiritually, I’ve been wrestling some tough questions.
I’m twenty-one years old, a senior in college, Honors student, double-major, editor-in-chief, and I feel inadequate.
It started a couple months ago, when I was walking back to my dorm late at night, cold dinner in my hand a bag full of homework. While my mind was mentally writing down a checklist, I ran smack-dab into a striking realization: “You aren’t doing enough.” The words came from this small, raspy voice (#devil), and I automatically went on the defensive, running through the list of things that I do. How could anyone possibly say I’m not doing enough?
When confronted with the statement that we aren’t doing enough, it is perceived as a blow to our identity: basically, we aren’t enough. But what if we are, and it has nothing to do with the amount of “stuff” we do? Feelings of inadequacy based on these statements are ingrained into our minds from the time we’re toddlers. All throughout children’s lives, they hear people ask “what/who do you want to be when you grow up?” and the answers are usually along the lines of a firefighter, a cop, a teacher, the president, and so on. Even now, as a senior in college, I hear those questions more than ever before. Today’s world believes that what we do as a career (and our actions) will define us as a person. When people ask us to tell them about ourselves, one of the things we tend to start with is our job. We overwhelm ourselves with doing as much (or too much) as possible, under the impression that this will give us more value, more worth.
I took that insult as a blow to my identity and worth instead of my actions. The world teaches you that your actions determine your identity and worth, while God says differently.
It’s easy to say that we know our identity is in Christ and that good works aren’t what saves us until you’re confronted with a voice that challenges that. Stepping into this season of my life, I knew that I’d be overwhelmed, and I knew that I’d be challenged; the enemy saw that as an entry point to make me doubt myself. This is exactly what the enemy’s main goal is: to engage in warfare, and cause us to question our belief system. When I tried to defend myself by listing the things that I did (my "works"), I answered the way the world wanted me to. This is not to say that the things you do have absolutely nothing to do with who you are, as this is often not the case. But it is how we perceive actions to decide worth. We’re saved by grace, not by our own doing (Ephesians 2:8-9). Truly knowing that you are a child of God, made in His image, changes the way you think about everything.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned since August, it’s this: I am at this place in my life because God has put me here, to prune me and shape me into who He wants me to be. “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). As many things as I do, I’ll never be able to match the value of being a daughter to the King. I’ve got my boxing gloves on for the next time the enemy comes around.