Working Hard or Hardly Working?

There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 HCSB

Okay so truth moment, well all of my devotions are truth moments for me haha. But seriously, sometimes I feel as if I have never really pushed myself in pursuit of anything in my life. I have often done only the bare minimum, and instead I gave the illusion of hard work by stretching myself with several other tasks to compensate for that fact. I can remember a few instances…and it is taking everything within me not to break down and cry. At the slightest sign of opposition most times, I have quit or lashed out like a spoiled child.

In high school, I was ranked number one since forever (I graduated valedictorian). I really didn’t have to do much to do well, evidenced by the fact I was often discouraged from answering questions because my teachers knew I knew the answer. I got really lazy my senior year–in particular, I was in AP Calculus and my teacher threatened me with an F and actually called my mom, which caused me to break down and cry, and hurry up and get my act together. Fast forward to freshman year of college, I had straight As and could sleep through Calculus (yeahhhhh I had to repeat it because yep I was lazy and didn’t score high enough on the AP exam in high school). But biology, which did not teach me to enough so that I could actually pass a test and because I didn’t know how to study, I couldn’t teach myself the material or go to study groups with the other students. So I dropped that class at the threat of a D marring my academic record. To think the only thing between me and being a doctor was that dang class lol…

I started off well with my LSAT studies last year but got distracted and did the bare minimum there. I did well enough to get into Law School and it was by the grace of God that I got a grant covering a majority of my tuition. Now the things I have genuinely worked for: every sport I played (I was told I was not athletically inclined so I had to prove that wrong), graduation, becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., redeeming myself with a professor who thought I was a slacker, dropping pounds with my trainer my grad year (life on prednisone I tell ya), and in some of my relationships among other things… I really felt something with those because I worked and did the work to achieve those things.

Even now, I have gotten my first semester’s grades back from law school and I did the bare minimum (for Marquita, that is) and I did my usual task juggling (full-time work and school). I did not flunk out, thank God, but I did not do as well as I would have liked either. So today I realized something about myself. I was lazy. (I released laziness before I went into 2013). I did not know how to study and because of all those years of not being challenged academically or encouraged to work hard, I failed to rise to the occasion here and dropped the ball, sorta. Although I tried studying with others, I was inconsistent with the things that mattered–adequate preparation for one of my classes, actual studying and testing myself before finals, reinforcing the things I know about how I learn–and my efforts were insufficient to produce the results I desired. Although in my defense, I am having to learn to learn differently and for that matter, internalize the fact that the answer is not what is important, it is how you got the answer, well the explanation (total opposite of what I have learned my entire life).

Strangely enough, many of us do this in life–we resist and quit or throw a temper tantrum because: 1) we are not challenging ourselves spiritually and are thus not growing or 2) we have challenged ourselves to pursue a deeper relationship with the Father and we give up at the first sign of tension. Then we feel as if we have failed so we turn our backs on God. Fortunately life is a lot like school, so the only way we flunk out of life is if we refuse to learn the lesson by adapting to the circumstances and ultimately choose to live a life without God. The beauty of this lesson is that we can change, re-take the test and pass!

To many people, the efforts I have taken over the years seem like a lot and that I actually accomplished something…but for me it wasn’t. It was easy to juggle 30-something tasks to compensate for the fact that I was not being challenged in the most important way. In fact, busyness was my coping mechanism to not deal with the world, well that and reading a whole lot of books. Actually I recognize now that I was filling voids with busyness when I should have been filling voids with God. The more I had going on, the more occupied my life felt. It served to keep my mind off my reality, which was that something was missing from my life. However, depending on what that thing was, the more it challenged me, the more likely I was to quit and do something else unless I was encouraged to keep pressing. Actually, it was only the things in life that I have prayed and asked for God’s help, strength and favor that I successfully completed. I was like that potential I saw in the men I had dated…resting and untapped. But the change for me now is having people that believe in me and my success and now I want to do this for me (well, for God–He did give me the dream, lol).

This lesson goes back to my prayer and desire to become the Proverbs 31 woman, which includes being a woman of integrity and a hard worker among other things. (See Proverbs 31:10-31) When we ask God to teach us certain things, for the process that results to truly be productive, it will involve that painful act of exposure, removal of the blinders and actually seeing yourself for who you really are. When I looked at myself from that perspective, I got sad but quickly saw that there was hope, and for that hope I have faith that God has changed me. So it does not matter to me anymore: I will be successful and a hard worker from this day forward. Daily God reveals something about me, and daily my respect, honor and love for and faith in Him grows more. Making these changes will make me into the woman He called me to be, but more importantly, give Him the glory. Allow God to really use you and endure that hard work called self-improvement and spiritual growth. You will be glad to become who you were called to be, so forget the past and press forward which means you have some work ahead of you!

I think of this scripture and I will most certainly keep this as my confession from today forward: Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 GWT

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