Something that I have been struggling with recently is maintaining my identity during rejection and failure. Going through my first few years at Georgia Tech, I failed A LOT. I struggled through classes and had a really hard time finding my co-op with McKenney’s, struggled again finding my most recent internship, and am currently 5 months into a so-far fruitless full-time job search. But things have worked out in the end. They always have, and always will. Now this is not to say: “Don’t try, just let things happen because God isn’t going to just let you sit and not be used.” Quite the contrary. Going to Tech we are pounded with work, with success, with failure. We are taught to keep pushing through all of the bad because the good is right around the corner (most of the time, unless you’re a workaholic engineer for the rest of your life…). If we don’t keep striving to do the best we can, we will be hard pressed to be successful here.
Because of this, I have found peace to be one of the hardest things to find during my 5 years at Tech. I constantly rely on myself for the strength to get through classes and times like my current job hunt. But God has a funny way of smacking me in the face and forcing me to change my perspective to focus on Him and what He has given me. Struggling through things should increase our reliance on the one who gave us the knowledge and strength, the only one who can carry us through hardship (but let’s be honest, does it really do that?). Christ came so that we could be absolved of our sins, and so that men could put their identities in Him. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, our identity remains in what we do, who we are on the Earth, just as the disciples would have remained fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots. But through Christ, the disciples and us have a new identity. An identity that doesn’t rely on what grades we make or what job we have.
When people ask you what you do/who you are, what do you say? I usually say that I’m a student, what year I am, what I’m studying, etc. Is that what we should be saying? Why do we avoid claiming the identity that Christ gave us when He died on the cross? I am MORE than guilty of forgetting about and sometimes even denying that identity because it makes me uncomfortable. My humanity LOATHES admitting failure, or that I’m not good enough. I hate it enough that I constantly forget what great gift I have been given in Christ that I can go to this school, be blessed with the family and friends I have been blessed with, and have the opportunities I have been afforded throughout my time in college and in my future.
All of this comes with a caveat of course: I’m not saying that we stop working hard and just let things happen in God’s time. I believe wholeheartedly that going to Georgia Tech is a blessing beyond what I can imagine and that my time here should be spent furthering my knowledge so that I can use the talents that God has given me wisely (Matthew 25:19-30). What I am suggesting is that we all challenge ourselves, myself included, to be uncomfortable. To claim the identity that Christ has given us so that we may have the strength to push through the rough times and enjoy the blessings that we have been given. As they say, “Hindsight is 20-20,” and man do I wish that I had been able to take my own challenge into account throughout my 5 years at Georgia Tech. What a difference it could have made…