God's Geek

Reflections and random thoughts of a geeky youth worker in North London...

Monday, December 04, 2006

An Epiphany

I have just finished the first year of my Diploma in Youth Mission and Ministry and have been eagerly awaiting the return of an assignment on the subject of mentoring that I completed in September. Little did I know when I opened the envelope that the result would change my life...

I hope you are suitably intrigued, even though the post so far reads like the trailer to a cheesy film. Anyway, I had got really involved in the assignment and it made me think loads about the significance of mentoring and how to implement a more formal mentoring scheme in my church. In many ways, it has been the most relevant and challenging assignment for the ministry that I am a part of. Anyway, I tore open the envelope, only to find that I had got the worst mark that I have ever got for an assessed piece of work! I had a quick read through the comments and turned to Neil and said, 'I feel fine.' No big deal, you may think, but for me, this was absolutely huge. Let me give you a brief tour of my education:
  • At infant school, I read the school out of books and was praised often for my abilities, especially in reading and writing stories. I remember a particularly imaginative one involving a talking beach ball...
  • Throughout Junior School I was around about the top of the class. And I loved being there.
  • At secondary school, I was one of the swots and much enjoyed the feeling of superiority that this gave me.
  • I did very well at GCSE and A Level, going on to study Biblical Studies at Sheffield, where I got a first
  • During my first year of this course, I think I got the highest mark I have ever got for an assessed piece of work.

I hope you are still reading, rather than kicking your computer in disgust at my arrogance and boastfulness, because actually this is rather a sad story. You see, from a very early age, I have got my self esteem all wrapped up in academic achievement. Being praised by others and getting high marks has validated me as a person. And I am ashamed to admit it, but I enjoyed feeling better than others when I did better than them. Of course, getting self esteem in this way is dangerous as a bad mark can easily knock my confidence for six. Also, I realise even from reading other blogs that there are so many people with much greater intelligence than me that express themselves with so much more eloquence... and, according to my twisted version of self esteem, they are therefore better than me. This may sound fairly standard stuff, but it really has had a hold over me and although God has been gently showing me time and time again the meaning of real esteem, worth and love, yesterday was like being released from chains as a lot of stuff that has slowly been moving from my head to heart moved to my heart with a big bump.

You see, I have been looking forward to all the praises that will flow when I get a Distinction, despite being pregnant and then with a small baby for the majority of the course. Already in my head I could hear people saying, 'Oh, you are amazing. I could never have achieved that.' But yesterday's mark now makes that a lot less likely and it felt like a huge weight had lifted. I mean, who cares about the mark? Although the truth is, a lot of people care.

  • Neil cares. His constant support and love is amazing and I know his love and respect for me is not tied up in my achievements. His encouragements over the last 8 years have been (and God working through him) have been the major reason for this epiphany
  • Daniel will care. I want him to know that his worth is not based on any sort of achievements. We love him. End of story and God loves him even more. And unless I model this to him, he will end up down my twisted path...
  • My church cares, not about the mark, but the huge impact the course is already having on the ministry as I am constantly challenged and impassioned
  • God cares. He has given me a reflective mind that I believe he wants me to use for the good of his kingdom. But his love for me is not based on this. He loves me he loves he loves me, so much so that his son died for me. His grace is sufficient.

So, although I love learning and reading and always will - which is a very good thing- my response to the mark on that assignment managed to order things properly in my head and heart and I felt such relief and also deeply loved. It is not often that a low college mark fills someone with such confidence, but it is typical of God and his topsy turvy grace and love.


Blogger Suse said...

This sounds an odd thing to say but, I am really pleased for you. My response to me mark was not a positive one but similarly I have learnt stuff about me.I glad that God is doing stuff with you.

Love to you and Daniel.

8:13 PM  

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