Joey: (looks at a girl walk in) see ordinarily I would talk to her, but my confidence is shaken did I sleep with her? Did I not sleep with her?
–The One with the Sharks
I’ve said before that the older I get, the more I relate to Friends. (That might explain why I watch at least six hours of the show a week.) One of tonight’s (many) episodes resonated on multiple levels. Maybe Joey was talking about confidence in his sex life… but just because don’t have one of those doesn’t mean I can’t relate.
Over the past nine days, I’ve doubted my ability in one of the things I’m best at: writing. When I received a critique from my professor on my master’s project, it was harsher than I anticipated. I began a massive revision of the project, and I think it’s going well. (I have until tomorrow evening to complete it, so we’ll see.)
But in the process, my very foundation has been shaken.
I have three near-complete articles waiting to be polished and submitted. I won’t graduate from the University of Alabama unless these rewrites are successful. After the events of the past week and a half, I no longer trust my ability to determine whether or not these articles are any good.
I fully agree with my professor’s criticism of the series. He offered useful advice. I think I’ve put that to use and transformed this from a ho-hum sophomore in college piece of work to a project fitting for a graduate student.
But what if I didn’t? I cried for over an hour the night I received his e-mail. I went to work the following morning feeling shaky. I’ve had bouts of anxiety ever since.
I’ve battled those fits in the only way I know how: through prayer. I sat in bed after a night of editing and rewriting and turned to one of my favorite chapters of one of my favorite books of the Bible. As I reread an oft-quoted passage in 2 Corinthians, truth hit me anew:
His grace is sufficient for me. His power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast, because when I am weak, then I am strong.
My worth isn’t found in my writing. (It’s a damn good thing, too—this entry will testify that I’m not always at the top of my game!) Performance doesn’t make or break me. I try so hard to have it all together, because I’m a perfectionist, because control is my pet sin. I think I’m doing well most of the time.
That’s a lie. When I think I’m strong, I’m at my weakest, because I’m ignoring my need for Christ. I’m overlooking how the gospel applies to my everyday needs.
When I admit that I’m fallen, I rely on Christ to lift me up. Maybe the series I’ve worked so hard to save will meet my committee’s standards—but maybe it won’t. That frightens me, almost to the point of indolence.
But look at how far He’s brought me. I reflected the other day on the path from Tallahassee to Alabama. I’ve seen God’s hand all the way. Who am I to think He would abandon me here?
(And yes, if you happen to be reading this and it happens to be sometime before, oh, 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, and you happen to want to edit my stories… please say so. I’ll be forever grateful.)