When asked “who are you?” most of us will answer, “I am a student at Gordon College pursuing a degree in…” While our studies are vital to our daily life, being a student is not the foundation of who we are. To anyone reading this who knows me, that sentence may come as a shock. I am known as a perfectionist, book lover, and teacher’s pet–and all of those descriptives are true. For a long time, I’ve allowed these adjectives to become the foundation of my identity. However, these building blocks crumble when not supported by something stronger.
It’s an age-old adage that the crucible reveals your character. In times of pain, loss, and struggle, we are confronted with how we see ourselves—for example, the impending gauntlet of midterms. Midterms spark anxiety in students all over the world. It could be a unifying practice that would allow us to treat one another with grace, fellowship, and kindness. However, more often than not, it is a period of intense pressure, loneliness, and shame. In part, this is due to the fact that we define ourselves by our exam results. When your worth is defined by your GPA, class rank, or academic prowess, you will never feel like you’re enough. A cycle begins: you stress about the exam or paper, feel inadequate, receive the grade, feel let down, and then repeat. I have been trapped in this cycle more times than I care to admit. Yet, this is not the way it has to be. We, as Christians, are so much more than temporal terms.
You—yes you, reading this screen—no matter what you see as defining you, you are a beloved child of God. Christ has redeemed you on the cross and your identity, your True Identity, is Grace. This does not mean to throw your hands up and start #youdoyouboo living. Rather, if you build your identity on the foundation of Grace, you are able to give yourself grace. When you do not earn an A on the paper you have been working on, it does not mean you are any less worthy. When you are passed over for the job you interviewed for, it does not mean you are a failure on a molecular level. While there are always lessons to learn and it is crucial to give your best effort, these issues will eventually fade. However, the way in which you view yourself will always stay with you. Here are some ideas to establish and remind yourself WHOSE you are:
- Have a pre-exam playlist! Songs featured on mine are: “Look at your Life Through Heaven’s Eyes,” “You Say,” “Voice of Truth,” “He Lives In You (Lion King the Musical),” “This is Home,” and “I Will Be Undignified.”
- Celebrate little victories! If you have a certain soda or meal that allows you to celebrate–then enjoy it and enjoy it often.
- On your mirror, have a post-it or paper that confirms your identity. I use Bible verses (Psalm 139:14, Eph. 2:4-6) and notes from loved ones.
- Surround yourself with people who know what your true identity is and will tell you the truth even when it is hard. Then, LISTEN to them.
What a beautiful testament of the Lord’s craftsmanship if we as a campus saw ourselves as beloved. Our lives can change for the better if we were to enjoy the hard earned victories, celebrate our accomplishments without arrogance, and allow for Grace to flow through each and every descriptor we have placed on our lives.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not proport to reflect the opinions or views of the Gordon Review, editorial staff, or its members.