People who know me know that I do not accept personal failure well.
I was recently talking to my dad about one of my midterms, a multiple choice political science exam that turned out to be one of the hardest exams I had ever taken.
He told me to keep studying, hope that I pulled off a grade of at least 50 percent, and pass the class with a C.
Colleges give credit for a C. It works like that.
“But I don’t work like that,” I told him.
And it’s true, I don’t.
Since I was in elementary school, I have felt a push to be “the best”.
It didn’t necessarily come from my parents, although they did expect me to do my best.
It came from me.
In high school, I strained myself to the limits. I even forced myself to quit the swim team because my schoolwork came first.
I played it safe. I never ditched. I took Advanced Placement classes.
And it paid off, I guess.
I graduated in the top 5% of my class (of about 600), I did extremely well on my SAT and ACT, and was accepted to every school I applied to.
Now, in college, I find myself doing much of the same thing: studying to the point where I have very little time to myself, stressing out over exams and grades, and trying to fit four years of coursework into three years.
Obviously, I get a little overworked at times, and the first thing to go is typically my time with God.
I have always been a night person, and for as long as I can remember, the time before I go to bed has been the time I spend with God.
Except, after a long day, I am usually exhausted to the point where my pillow looks more appealing than my prayer life.
So, I am forced to ask myself:
“Does any of this even matter?”
Does my pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion, while pushing God to the side, amount to anything?
Honestly, I don’t think it does.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that God wants me in school – but He does not want me in school and out of my relationship with Him.
Making a relationship with God my first priority is not as hard as it may seem.
These days, I spend the middle of my day with God, and the coolest part is that my time spent with Him gives me the motivation to diligently do my schoolwork.
But, in order to spend that time with God and make it a priority, I have had to discipline myself to leave my computer and television off until I have spent my time with Him.
I am learning to forfeit the chronos (the time we live in) for the kairos (the time that God lives in).
Forfeiture is perhaps my biggest struggle – weighing what is truly important against that which is not – and it is evident in many of my stories (see “Accepting the Bench”, “Making Time”, and “The Risk Factor”).
But it is extremely important that we do forfeit the chronos for the kairos because “the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
All of my accolades will, one day, fade.
My high school and college diplomas will, one day, crumble to dust.
How I did on my first midterm in my comparative politics class will, one day, be forgotten.
But the time I spend getting to know my Savior will, forever, be worthwhile.
[[originally published at saLt on 10.11.2004]]