Posts Tagged ‘worth’

This is a bit rambly – sorry!

I’ve had a lovely weekend, after getting my result back, and my younger brother and his girlfriend came to stay as my brother turned 21 yesterday. It’s been lovely, catching up and laughing together, and hearing stories from his work at the camp I’ve been involved with for two years, but couldn’t work this year due to starting 5th year. He’s looking after some of the campers I cared for, and love a lot, so I kind of still feel part of it, through him.

I’ve been thinking about validation this weekend as, after getting the all clear with the research project (TAKE THAT, DEPRESSION!), I feel so much calmer, as though I’ve finally proved that I deserve to be in my final year with everyone else, as though the barrier between me has been brought down. I’m no longer marching to a different drum, or doing things in tandem – I’m back on track. For the past few weeks, I’ve  felt like a fraud, still waiting to hear if I’d ticked every box for 4th year, or is I was going to be hauled up again and find myself working out of synch to make it up, again. I feel more validated now, as though I have a right to be where I am.

Seeking and needing validation is tricky territory – very ‘of the world’ as the apostles would say. Since becoming a Christian, this is certainly something I struggle with, when at times, there’s a constant sense of only being as good as your last exam mark or assessment, and I don’t always manage to separate out my requirements as a medical student to hoop-jump and satisfy criteria, with my requirements as a person under God, who needs no other validation or title. Academics are an easy bolt hole in a lot of ways – when I was a teenager, maintaining perfect grades was a good way of convincing myself that things were fine – as long as I could do calculus, what did it matter if my dad had been sat in the ER overnight again, sobering up? I was ostensibly fine. I could differentiate with the best of them. And that stayed with me through university – it took a long time to even start getting away from thinking that God uses a grading system too, or that he lines us up according to ability or worth, with the runts confined to the broom cupboard. My confidence in academics and medical school has certainly taken a dive recently, as has my confidence in most things – so I’m trying hard this week to remember that I don’t need any other paperwork or confirmation, or validation or proof, than that which I get from God. Depression built itself a lovely wall between me and my faith – it’s going to take a while to get all those bricks down again and back to baseline, before moving forward in faith once again.

Feeling on equal footing to everyone else as a Christian has been something I’ve struggled a lot with – one memorable moment was at one of my first services, listening to someone read from Isaiah 40, and panicking as at that time, no, I didn’t really know, I hadn’t really heard and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, aside from following a pull I couldn’t describe. I sat there feeling like a fraud for not knowing about Jesus and not knowing about God, and wondering if I’d get thrown out if anyone knew just how clueless I was. As someone who came to faith late, I don’t have the stories about sunday school and church holiday camps. I wasn’t raised saying grace before meals or praying before bed. I don’t know a lot of Bible history and I get a bit confused between all the Simons and Peters and Simon-Peters, and all the Johns too. I don’t know the words to the songs the children sing, have no contemporary Christian music on my ipod, don’t really know what to say when I receive communion and get a bit stuck when I’m in a prayer circle and can see that it’s my turn to give something up. I usually feel like I’m running a completely different race, bowling with the bumpers up, cycling with training wheels, swimming with armbands – separated out by a lack of history and a whole lot of uncertainty. It took a long time to realise that if and when I’m standing outside Heaven, St Peter is probably not going to whap out a Bible and say ‘you have ten seconds to find Habbukuk – GO‘ – and that if he does, that’s probably a lot easier than the whole judging of my life etc. Note to self: start preparation for End Times.

This last year gave my self-worth a heart kick in the teeth, to be honest. This week, I got my validation from the medical school and thus can more freely move on and get on, with my last year. Tackling other insecurities isn’t quite as straightforward – it’s not as if I’m going to get an email that says ‘just to let you know, you scored an 88 on being a child of God – above average, but room for improvement. Formal feedback sheets available from the college office’. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to tackle this, aside from getting back into my Bible and seeking out those verses that tell me that I’m not as unworthy and not as much of an after-thought as I often feel. Psalm 139/Ephesians 1/John 3, here I come…..

One of the first Christian books I read was by AW Tozer  and I remember being completely bemused when he wrote about a mild, meek man who was nothing out of the ordinary, who didn’t break records or the glass ceiling, who didn’t kill himself striving and trying – but who was completely firm in his value, every day, no matter what, due to his inheritance from God. At the time, I didn’t get it – I didn’t understand that our value to God has no bearing on our position in the stock market, our mortgage, our children’s IQ’s or our climbing careers. This is something I am gradually getting to grips with, though breaking a life-long habit of using my CV as my yardstick for worth, is hard. According to my counsellor, I’m pretty typical for someone ‘growing up alcoholically’ (her words, not mine) – in that I was raised with mixed messages and changing promises, with love used as a tool for bartering and being with-held when someone stepped out of line. Without wanting to get too Philip Larkin, those early relationships both mould and marr. Early patterns are hard to break.

So – now that I can stop focussing on ‘worldly validation’ from the likes of the medical school, I’m going to focus the next few weeks on sorting out my own stumbles in seeking validation from God. Let’s see how it goes. Any tips/ideas/maps always greatly appreciated.

In other news – I’ve got a week left on care of the elderly before moving off to GPland for a month. If you’re a praying person, please pray for elderly patients and the staff caring for them – there’s a lot of tough stuff going on for some of them and if it was up to me, I’d take them all home with me and set up a nursing home in my living room. However, as this is somewhat socially contraindicated, prayers from you, and (attempted) attention from me, will have to do.

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