Last night I sat across a table from my beloved professor and advisor. It’s been close to a year since our last meeting, a time when I felt ready and compelled to conquer the world. I was preparing to move to Istanbul, Turkey, and I was set on completing my time there and returning to the US to marry my boyfriend, at which point we would move to Menlo Park where he grew up and I would attend grad school at Stanford. I never told him this plan, of course, which makes it all the more comical now.
Last night I sat at a table sharing a meal of Tom Kah, almond crusted shrimp, and some sort of weird mint noodle thing with my beloved professor.
After sharing about the woes the year had brought me – quitting my job in Turkey, returning to Santa Barbara to fall into the arms of my boyfriend only to find that he was no longer interested and wanted to begin a relationship with someone else, losing my grandfather to cancer, facing incredibly challenging anxiety, and feeling like an absolute failure – she looked me dead in the eye and asked me, “Bethany, what are you most proud of from this last year?”
Immediately I thought to say, “Well, surviving Turkey, and going even when I knew it would be hard.” And then, “No, coming out on the other side of this heartbreak so whole and happy.” And then, “Shoot, what am I proud of? Is there anything I feel remotely good about from this past year?”
That’s when these words spilled out of my mouth: “I’m proud of knowing the Lord so much better. When I graduated I thought I really knew the Lord, I thought I had it all figured out. But now I know him far better and know I still have an infinite amount to learn about Him.”
I’m still not quite sure how those were the words my tongue spoke, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that that is truly the only thing any of us can ever be proud of. No matter what obstacles we overcome, no matter how resilient we become, knowing Jesus is all that matters.
My roommate read some of Paul’s words to me the other day – it was the part where Paul basically says that of all people he has the most to boast about; basically, he’s the most badass, powerful, and perfect man, and yet in truth, he has nothing, absolutely nothing but Christ. It is Christ and Christ alone who matters.
Every single day I fight the prideful thoughts that tell me I’m successful or powerful or better or more knowledgeable…every day I am tempted to give into the “woe is me” attitude that reframes my life to be about me. And I am regularly reminded of – and humbled by – the power of the Spirit, the sacrifice of the Son, and the deep, deep love of the Father.
None of the pain and none of the victories of this past year of my life are anything in comparison to His greatness.