“You’ll never make it in marketing; you’re too shy and quiet,” my professor told me, “I think you should change your major.”
I have since replayed this memory many times. I had gone to my professor one evening for help with an assignment, and I can still tell you exactly where I stood outside the business building when my teacher dropped the bomb.
What she said wrecked me. I left that office defeated and questioning myself. Back in my dorm, I bawled my eyes out. I was upset for days. But I knew I wasn’t going to change what I was doing. I was in my third year of school already. There was no way I could let all the hard work and effort I’d put into my degree go down the drain because of one little comment.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been hard on myself. My parents never pressured my siblings and I to get good grades, but 95 per cent of the time, I found myself striving to get the highest grade possible. Each time I turned in an assignment or took an exam, I faced an unhealthy amount of stress and anxiety. Even when I knew that I had done my best, I continued pressuring myself to go above and beyond.
Even though my professor’s words crushed me, I was determined to try even harder. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, but I couldn’t let her be right, so I just worked harder and kept going.
It wasn’t until my final year in school that, for the first time, I completely entrusted my life and the plans for my life to the Lord. My brother’s girlfriend (now wife) moved in with me during my senior year, and her faith was something I admired. Every morning, we would get up for coffee and devotional time, and talk about Jesus. This was the first time that I had a consistent routine of quiet time with the Lord. And as I did so, I kept wanting to know Him more and more.
As I grew to understand God’s love for me and learned that His plans for us are good, I felt complete peace—instead of anxiety—about what was to come. This was a peace I hadn’t experienced before, and I knew that whatever God had in store for me was going to work out, even if I really wanted Him to work it out as soon as possible.
You see, graduation was approaching, but I was still jobless. I had turned down an earlier job offer because I felt that it wasn’t where the Lord wanted me. Though the job would bring me security and comfort, prayers for discernment and clarity led me to feel increasingly certain that this wasn’t the plan for me. Though my classmates all had their next steps planned out, I still had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be.
About a week before graduation, I finally received an email with a job offer. It was with a company who organized events raising funds for their clients. And guess what field it would be? If you guessed marketing, you’re right.
I knew that through this job, I would be accomplishing good—by raising funds to support team USA for the 2016 Olympics Games. But the job was on the American East Coast and out of my comfort zone. As I prayed about this, I felt that the Lord’s plan was going to be just that—something new in which I’d have to trust Him, even if I was afraid to be so far from home and everything familiar.
It has now been three years since graduation, and my career path has looked very different from many people my age. I haven’t had the standard “full-time job with benefits” or the kind of financial security my friends have, but each opportunity has helped me discover more of my passions.
In all this time, God has proved faithful over and over again—sometimes at the very last second. Even when I thought I knew better, it always turns out that God’s plans are so much better than anything I could have dreamed up. Through prayer, seeking counsel from close friends, and staying grounded in God’s Word, I continue to grow in clarity and confidence in following God’s plan.
That’s not to say that I don’t have moments of doubt. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not reaching my full potential in a given task, and I begin comparing my job with those of my friends. I remember how my professor told me I wouldn’t make it, and a small voice in the back of my mind would creep in: “You’re a failure. Look what you’re doing right now while everyone else is leaps and bounds ahead of you.”
This is not the voice of the Father, but of the enemy that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The Bible says that I am a child of God (Galatians 3:26). I am right where I am for a reason. I am valuable. I am capable.
Every time this voice tries to make me feel worthless, I repeat Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
It’s not a paycheck I’m working for, but God. I am a vessel for Jesus exactly where He wants me; I am not a failure.
The more I lean into God’s Word, the more aware I become of my identity in Him, and the less I need the approval of others. Because I already know who holds the future, I no longer need to worry about what comes next. As I grow in God, I learn that His Word provides direction, peace, discernment, as well as truth about myself and His plans for me. And so, I rely less on others and more on Him.
When you know who you are—a beloved child of God—the painful remarks of others can no longer cause you to question yourself and your path. People might look at your grades or your career choice and tell you that you will be a failure, but guess what? You’re not.
Though we fail at times (and learn from each experience), we know that God loves us more than we could ever imagine, and that He makes firm the steps of those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:23). He is beside us in each and every instance and will never leave our sides. The truth is that, whatever people say, we are beloved, valuable children of God, and if we allow Him to, He will guide us every step of the way into His plans and purposes for our lives.