A Case for Perspective

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I’m taking the GRE next week.

And let me tell you, studying for the math portion has not been easy.

It probably would be easier if I’d started six months ago and devoted myself to the carefully structured schedule that allows ample time for me to review each section and make flash cards to drill key facts into my memory, so I can approach the exam with the calm certainty I’ll pass.

It’s what I, perfectionist and planner that I am, would have preferred.

But real life got in the way. And so did the assumption that the test would be offered somewhere near me at least a handful of times this fall, rather than just once at the end of September. In holding out for something later, I missed the preparation that “now” provided. I didn’t purchase my practice workbook until the beginning of August, which left me with only about six weeks to frantically cram everything I hadn’t retained from high school algebra and geometry classes back into my brain.

And so, as I struggled my way through another set of practice problems this past Wednesday night, failing to apply the principles that had made so much sense two pages ago but didn’t when they were applied to abstract problems taken out of context, I keenly felt a sense of unpreparedness and incompetence that maaaay have manifested itself in a mini-meltdown:

I was always a good math student. Why can’t I remember how to do some of this stuff? I’m so stupid. I’m gonna fail this test and I won’t get in to graduate school anywhere and I’ll have to kiss my dreams goodbye and why God whyyyyyy are You doing this to me?

Cue tears.

But wait. I didn’t actually cry.

Instead, I found the presence of mind to stop myself and ask this crucial question: Will this matter in a year, five years, ten years? The reason I’d decided to take the GRE in the first place was so that I could go to graduate school, an end goal that I’m positive will still happen even if my math score isn’t stellar. Not all of the schools I’m applying to require these scores for admission, and even if I’m not accepted to the ones that do because of them, then, well… those particular ones weren’t in God’s plan for me. And that’s okay.  

I’m not making a case for slacking off. And I’m also not making a case for the brusque “put on your big girl panties and deal with it” connotation that the command to “put things in perspective” can sometimes carry.

I’m making a case for forgiveness, for doing what I’m capable of at this moment, and letting go of the rest. I’m making a case for the “grand scheme of things”, the big picture. I’m making a case for trust.

I’m making a case for understanding that God’s plan for my life is so, so much greater than any one moment of stress and fear, that I am the sum total of my heart and my purpose and my experience, and that I am good because of who I am and not how I perform.

And I challenge you to remember that, too.

It’s going to be okay. You're going to be okay.