Life has given me many moments to reflect on what is important to me. I have spent a lot of time in the hospital in recent years with little else to do but reflect. This has led me down some interesting paths. So come with me on a journey of what I call professional-patient ramblings.
When I think about the many years that I have spent trying to meet the expectations of Doctors, nurses, medical insurance companies, my parents, my teachers, and of course, myself, I find that I am my harshest critic, and I always have been. It started years ago when I was in Kindergarten, and I could see myself compared to my peers. They were always taller, seemed to understand precisely what the teacher asked of them without hesitation, and understood life better. This idea, of course, is that a five or 6-year-old knows much about life, but most seemed to be so much further ahead of me. While I critiqued my every educational move, there was so much going on in my life at that time I’m sure that if the roles were reversed, they would have maybe seen themselves in the same light that I saw myself. I was a 6-year-old that had already had eight surgeries and cardiac arrest while dealing with an undiagnosed learning disability.
I find it so strange now, looking back, that I always saw myself as an utter failure. This feeling recently came back to haunt me as I was doing what so many of us in seminary is doing, going to do, or have done. I was doing my best to be theologically savvy in a presentation where I felt everyone in the class was leaps and bounds ahead of me in understanding. It was recently when the professor got back to me, and my heart was broken while I was mentally beating the tar out of myself. I had earned a C+ for the course, and I had missed so much in my presentation. If you look at that outcome by itself, the pain and hurt seem somewhat justified. But what you don’t know is that I was in the hospital with a significant infection, in between surgical procedures, facing a mountain of physical pain, and feeling like a medical failure as I gave a presentation on something that was put off for almost a year so that my medical healing could be done first. Looking at the bigger picture, I am utterly blessed to get through the course with a C+ instead of completely failing!
My question is this, why do we hold ourselves back with standards and standardized comparisons when Jesus looks at all of those so-called ‘flaws’ and still thinks that what we have to offer of ourselves to the Kingdom is always A+?! Sometimes, we look around us thinking that what we have to offer will never be good enough, but what if Jesus looks at everything we are and have and is always in AWE of every piece?! I know that in 10 minutes after writing this, I will go back to studying for finals and still put limitations on who I am and where I sit in a world of grades and expectations and never feel like I’ve done anything worth what it probably is. Sometimes in life, we are our harshest critics, and remember that Jesus paid for it all and has given us the ability to be and feel loved and more than enough.
So dear friends, for those of you who are much like me and feel like you don’t measure up in the world, remember this; the measurement of success on earth is nothing like the measurement of success in the kingdom. So while you do your best during finals, I wish you all the best, and more than that, I pray that you feel the blessings of being successful in your savior’s eyes no matter what your grades reflect.
Sara Millard Distance Learning MA PCL seminary student. Pastoral Care Intern at First Presbyterian Church in Pueblo, Colorado. 4-time World Champion Pioneer Cart Shooter, 2-time kidney transplant recipient, and just happy to be here!