Just last week, I wrote this post about splicing (which isn’t an actual term apparently) or fumbling my final oral exam. About not reaching my potential. I didn’t finish it last week because I had to cry myself to sleep first.
My FB friends and family responded strongly and in one accord to my post. The comments were all in this vein:
I’m sure you didn’t do that poorly. You’re awesome. Keep your head up$$$ (these are exclamation marks since the key on my computer is broken).
It’s not that I’m not grateful for the outpouring of support, but the problem with writing a blog, especially when discussing your personal failures –or problems in general — is that everyone rushes to assure you that you are quite fine just as you are and going to be ok. And you mostly want to respond (without coming off as ungrateful): but that’s not the point of my post$ I’m trying to tell you that I’m actually not ok as I am
As I am –what I was trying to get across in that blog post –, I base too much of my identity on my grades. That 3 digit number starts to mean more to me than it should. Because it suddenly becomes a part of the way that I see myself and the way that (I think that) others see me. This small number suddenly takes on a significance that it never was meant to have. In chasing my potential, I always end up castigating myself for not reaching some ever elusive standard of perfection.
The Bible makes it clear that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor 5:7). Who I am — my identity — is no longer dependent on how well I do in school, or how many likes I get on a FB poss, or how attractive I am, or the amount of money in my bank account. My identity is based in Christ now.
But I forget that. I forget that the Kingdom of God is at hand and in the words of Tim Keller, the Kingdom has been turned upside down. The last are first in this kingdom, the poor are blessed. My gpa literally has no bearing on the type of person that I am or my position in God’s kingdom. He isn’t racking and stacking us based on our gpas, or looks, or bank accounts. He’s not taking a look at my transcripts, red pen in hand, or counting degrees to determine what I mean to him. There’s no comparison in the kingdom of God
And that is good news. There’s no longer a yoke around my neck to live up to the world’s definition of success or “making it”. I don’t have to judge myself against my “potential” where I’m always coming up short. I’m FREE. Free to live a life and do what God has called me to do. And sometimes the way that He reminds me of this, is by reminding me that chasing my potential — chasing perfection — is never going to lead to the freedom that only He offers. For me that sometimes looks like hysterical crying as all of the different walls of identity that I construct for myself come crumbling down.
I graduated today without a 4.0., but you know what matters most? I can speak Spanish. In six short months, I learned to speak and read and write a completely different language. And for that I am supremely grateful and looking forward to see where God takes me next.
And so as I head off to new adventures, I will encourage you to live free — stop chasing your potential, and I will wish you Salud, Amor, y Dinero