true life: i failed my boards exam

i've debated over whether or not i wanted to write this post. it's one that takes vulnerability, transparency and the breaking of my pride. i think those reasons in and of themselves scream that i need to punch this baby out.

long story short: i didn't pass my OT boards exam.

short story long: i am learning way more through failing than i think i ever would've through passing.

i found out when i was at my sister's in Asheville a few weeks ago and i think it was one of two occasions in my life in which i physically felt my heart drop (i'm sure ya'll can imagine what the other one was).
there it was in bright red wording: Failed
seriously, couldn't they say "not passed" instead? talk about sticking a label on my forehead and taking a stab at my self confidence.

i jumped in the shower, bawled my eyes out, had a very honest conversation with God, felt completely defeated and then declared: "i DO NOT want to do this. maybe OT isn't for me. maybe God has something else planned. maybe i'll just be a nanny for right now till i figure it out. or go back to school. yeah, no way. but i've honestly never really enjoyed OT... except for that one time i did... and i can't even think about studying again. studying! UGH! no, Lord, i can't do it again. i studied hard, i was faithful, i trusted you. i felt at peace and i was resting in the fact that you were sovereign over this and in total control but never did i expect i'd actually fail. how could you let me fail? i did everything you asked me to do! i followed, trusted, obeyed and submitted all this at your feet! this isn't fair, God!"

then fear and anger entered the picture. "what about this job offer i had? i was supposed to start like, next week. what about my loans? i have to start paying those back in a few months. what if i take it again and fail again? then what? i have no other education or capabilities that could make the income i need in order to live. i have bills to pay. no income coming in and my bank account is getting smaller and smaller as the days pass. what am i going to do, Lord? why is this happening to me? what are you trying to teach me? can i please just learn this lesson already? why do you keep taking away the things that i long for in this life? wasn't taking away my fiance enough?"

embarrassment then appeared. "what will my friends think of me? i feel stupid. i look like a failure (heck, even the computer labeled me as one). i asked all these people to pray for me and i've failed them! my family is disappointed in me. i'm probably the only one in my class to have not passed and what will they think about me?!" [side note: i hold my academics very dear to me. i'm not athletic or necessarily talented in any other area and so school has always been my "center stage". i've always been the "smart" one and took pride in my grades and academic achievements. this is my first "failure" and thus my pride was broken.]

whoa. let me just say, it was a hard day. i'm so thankful that after having this freak out i was able to walk out of the room, jump in the van with my 3 precious nephews, adorable niece and wonderful sister and head to the mall. i would love to say that the crying ceased then and there but it, in fact, did not. thankfully it was a thursday afternoon and there weren't that many people around.

i'd love to be sitting here, telling you this story and being able to say "well, i buckled down, took my test and passed!" but that's not the case... yet. i take it again this saturday. but, i wanted to write this before my second go around because even though this fear is still very present in my heart, the Lord has taught me so much more than i could have ever imagined though failing. and i don't want those lessons to go unnoticed or be overwritten by whatever is ahead of me in the weeks to come.

if you've been a reader of this little blog for a while, i hope you can empathize with the path God has lead me down the past 11 months and you can see why i kinda just lost it. yes, he keeps stripping things away from me. big things-- a fiance, a job, a chance for a steady income, a living situation and potentially even a career-- but, take heart, there's a common thread throughout it all that is starting to shine.

i have been placing my hope in these things, idols, to fulfill me, satisfy me, give me security and happiness, identity, meaning, value, significance, purpose.

God's not letting me continue down that road. thank heaven for that! it would lead to even more heartbreak in the end. i've been building up idols in my heart and letting good things become ultimate things. if all is my hope in passing this test, having an income and beginning my career, i will never be truly satisfied and fulfilled no matter how successful i may appear. only Christ can accomplish that within me. tim keller states in his book counterfeit gods "you don't realize that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have." "sometimes God seems to be killing us when he's actually saving us." God has been stripping me raw of my idols, removing them and leaving me with Him and Him alone. keller also states that the sign of leaving our idols behind us is when we can truly say from the depth of our heart: "because i have God, i can live without it." because i have God, i can live without this career, a husband, financial security and stability. because God is better, the only constant, my hope, wealth, health, love, security, honor and pure joy, i don't need anything else.

not only did he reveal this as an idol in my heart and is teaching me how to let go, he also is asking me to trust him while i wait for his direction. trusting him with financial pressures, job opportunities, the provision of time to study and to rest. trusting that he will guide me, teach me, and bring sisters in Christ who will walk with me and lift me up during this time of unknown. so far, he has provided in all of the above and as a result, faith has grown.

here's what i'm holding onto in this upcoming week and the weeks to come after: God cares for me. he promises to provide me with exactly what i need. he has plans for me to prosper and be successful and they are good plans! ones i couldn't even come up with on my own if i was given the chance! he wants and desires to give me what my heart so desperately longs for but is not content or willing to allow me do it on my own or when i deem best. he knows exactly where that'll end up and it isn't pretty. he's in control, he's got this and all he's asking for me to do is trust, submit and obey. he'll do the rest. and in the midst of all this, i am clinging to him, relying wholeheartedly on him and growing my faith in him. he will overcome. he will redeem this brokenness. he will fulfill his promises to me! that is for certain.

do you think i would've learned all that if i had passed this sucker? i'm thinking no.

i wish i could say i'm approaching next saturday with confidence, peace, trust and hope in Christ but, for the sake of being honest, i'm not totally there yet. i'm scared, nervous, anxious and broken. thank God we have a God who simply asks for us to have a broken and contrite heart before him (psalm 51:17) and who invites us to come boldly and confidently to his throne where we can receive mercy and grace (hebrews 4:16). thank God we have a God who can empathize with our weakness and knows exactly what is going on in our heart (hebrews 4:15) and who is bigger than our heart (1 john 3:20). thank God we have a God that does not require for us to meet a standard in order to receive his blessings and promises (ephesians 2:8-9). thank God we have a God that is not content or willing to leave us in the pit but instead, makes a miracle out of our mess (titus 2:14, galatians 1:4).

God's equipping me with a pretty awesome redemption story. i can feel it. he's working in me, refining me, breaking me and teaching me. and he won't stop. i guess he's just adding to the load to make it even more powerful? okay, i'll take it. break me, Lord. make a miracle out of me so that i can proclaim your goodness, power, redeeming grace and relentless love! he loves me, adores me, finds favor and delight in me. and sisters, the same is for you. 

i pray that this touches some hearts. that someone will find encouragement in the promise that nothing-- NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ or defeat us (romans 8:38-39). this story's ending is already written and i know what happens in the end: Christ wins! we'll continue to be beaten down but in the end, He reigns victorious. always and forever. amen.

Gennean  – (April 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM)  

Wow Mary, I so appreciate your honesty with us about this struggle you're facing. I pray that as you gear up for Saturday, that God really reminds you of the truth that He has gone before you and walks with you, with the ultimate best ahead of you!!!

Lauren Elizabeth  – (April 8, 2013 at 11:01 AM)  

I'm praying SO HARD for you that you will have peace- not that everything will work out to plan, not that you will pass that stinkin test- but that you will be ale to have peace and be able to hear and accept what God is calling for our to do. I know what he has big plans for you Mary, just like he had big plans for the Marys of the Bible. Trust in him. Trust in HIS timing. His will be done. This is just one small part of your story! Let him use you and mold you!

Pretty lady  – (April 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM)  

Oh dear child, God is taking His time to mold you and shape you for incredible things!
As Joseph Eliot once said, back in the 17th century:
"I need everything God gives me, and want nothing He denies me."

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