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In third grade, I was the best speller in my class. They talked to my parents and gave me the test to see if I could be moved to the accelerated class for "gifted" kids.

I passed and they let me in. But for some reason, I felt like a fraud.

Until that point, I worked really hard at being a good student. I thought I could find my self worth in excelling academically.

Even as an 8 year old child, I remember being afraid of receiving confirmation that I was dumb. Or of anyone noticing how dumb I really was.

When I got into the class for "gifted" kids I felt the need to puff myself up. To make myself seem special and more likable/lovable than I believed I was. I bluffed my way through, expecting the ax to fall at any moment.

My fourth grade teacher seemed drawn to a specific group of students. I was not in that group. No matter what I did, he never seemed to notice or approve. He would hand assignments back to me, tell me I hadn't put any effort into them and keep me in from recess to redo them. I felt confused and like I had no idea how I had failed to meet the standard he was calling me to. I didn't EVER not put effort into assignments. I stared at the sheet of paper and tried to figure out what was wrong with it, rearranged some words and then unceremoniously turned it in. I felt powerless to understand what he wanted from me. I had no idea where or what the standard was and had absolutely no idea how to meet it. I came to believe that there must be something wrong with me. So I gave up. And I was rarely a good student after that.

When we moved to Midland, I was a freshman in high school and signed up for honors English. I was required to take a test to be admitted.

I passed the test. They let me in. And I felt like a fraud.

I sank in my chair, the blood would rush to my face and tears would collect in my eyes as I listened to another student read a section of their essay to the class. My essays didn't sound like that. Theirs were beautiful and prosaic. Mine were . . . elementary?

I barely passed. My freshman year I got by with 80s. My score was below 85 that year, so I was required to re-take the entrance exam before my sophomore year.

Once again, I passed the test. They let me in. I felt like a fraud.

All of my essays that year received failing grades.

My feelings of being fraudulent lead to procrastination, and phoning assignments in when I did them. Even when I did take time and put a lot of effort into assignments, my grades were poor.

I remember one particular time when I sat waiting in anticipation as my teacher called each students name and handed them their graded essay. I had worked hard on mine. I had put a lot of effort in. She called my name and handed me my essay with a big. fat. 54 on it. Written and circled in red. I felt powerless and like a failure. I just couldn't figure out what I  was missing. My best work was 16 stinkin' points below passing. Of course, I should have gone and talked to her about it, but I didn't. I threw the essay away, buried it deep, and didn't tell anyone.

I went through my freshman and sophomore years that way.

At the end of my sophomore year, I decided to graduate a year early. This would mean I had to take my English classes at the local community college.

I was 16 and the youngest person in the class. I didn't have much hope that this class would be any different than the ones before.

I wrote my essays in the last period of high school on the day they were due.

And for the first time since third grade, my teacher liked my writing. She would call on me to read a portion of my essay and then exclaim over it. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.

During one of the final exams, I handed in my essay and she guffawed and sighed and interrupted the entire class final to read the opening line of my essay to them, gushing about how good it was.

Still, I had no idea where the standard was or how to meet it, but for some reason I lucked out. This was just as confusing as NOT hitting it despite my attempts to. I had done so poorly in high school English but somehow excelled in college English. I hadn't changed, as far as I could tell. While it was nice to receive the reprieve from failing, I still felt powerless to accomplish anything meaningful. Like there was some standard that I was incapable of reaching. There was something inherently flawed in me that made other people better than me. I believed that I was a failure.

My life has been marked by that.

I believed I could never excel at piano, so I didn't practice.

I didn't believe I could finish college and do what I wanted with my life, so I did poorly and then quit.

I didn't believe I could be a good mom, so I wasn't.

I didn't believe that I could maintain my weight loss for the rest of my life, so I didn't.

I still feel puzzled by those standards that I just couldn't seem to hit. The lies I came believe as a result enmeshed into my soul.

Except, I know that Mr. Rocky doesn't have to like or approve of me. God does. He chose me. And He was happy to.

I know that God made me the way I am, with the perfect level of intelligence for me. And I don't have to meet an invisible, unattainable standard set for me by a human.

And I know that with God anything is possible, so I can lose weight and maintain it for the rest of my life.

I don't know that I have learned all that I will from these instances in my life, or risen above them entirely...but I know that thinking through them and understanding where my character defects come from, will help me lay them aside.

And that's the point. Renewing my mind by focusing on Jesus and laying aside the sins and weights that entangle my feet and trip me up as I'm running.

God is doing that. He hasn't finished His work in me. He's going to finish it. He's teaching me the truth and the truth is setting me free.

Thank you for letting me share!


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