I was always worried about what people thought about me and about being successful. Most people might have considered me fortunate to have a good education, no financial worries, independence, and a career. I came across as being self-sufficient, independent, and successful. But underneath I was motivated by insecurities, and my desire to be "better than the next guy."
When I finished my Ph.D. and began an academic career, the workload and competition at the assistant professor level were fierce. I met my future husband, Dennis, during the very first year of my career, and, even though I loved him very much, he was a major target of my competitive nature. Oddly enough, my husband-to-be had a similar competitive nature, and because we had this in common, at least we could discuss it and try to deal with it. As a means of escaping the competition, though, I tended to associate with people with whom I didn't have to compete, and often these relationships were entirely inappropriate.
I was a frustrated, insecure person, who relied on inappropriate activities to make myself feel better. I worked too hard, competed too hard, drove myself too hard. But all along, God was reaching out to me. Finally I found a church where the people had a real peace which was something I wanted. How could they be so relaxed and not be worrying in the back of their minds about finishing their work—how could they be wasting this time on a Sunday morning and feel great about it?
My brother was also a very strong influence during this time. Even though he didn't appear to "be successful" or to have a great life at this time (no job and no girlfriend), his concern was for Dennis and me, and not for himself. If I had been in my brother's position, I would have had a terrible self-image, but my brother told us about his love-relationship with the Lord and suggested that we turn to God to help us solve our problems.
Several years after beginning our academic careers, Dennis and I were married. We thought we had worked out our problems of competition. We attended church together, and finally the Lord brought us a pastor to whom we could really relate. He helped open our eyes so we could see that our own sin was the true root of our problems. We both eventually (not right away!) accepted Jesus into our lives and saw Him as the only means of forgiveness so that we could achieve true "success." We had to rely on Him to help us with our problems and our worries. What a renewed perspective on what was truly important in life!
We have two beautiful daughters now, and I have gone to a part-time appointment to be able to spend as much time as possible with them. I can't imagine that I would have ever considered this as an option before accepting Jesus into my life. The Lord has placed many godly people in our lives who are Christ-centered, supportive, and understanding. What a blessing to have such a family of friends who pray for us and help us maintain our priorities and perspective.
I still often feel the competitive urge and think that by working part-time I am irrevocably slipping in my career. We have many other struggles in our lives, too. But God keeps lovingly reminding us to keep our focus on Him and to remember that His ways and His values are upside-down from the world's values. His success is not the world's success, but His success is eternal. We are still learning to rely on Him and must renew our reliance each and every day.
© Copyright 1996, Campus Crusade for Christ.
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