by Becky Ritchey
Okay, I’m coming clean – I have a startling confession. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
I don’t know everything.
Whew! What a relief to get that off my chest!
Seriously . . . years ago, I discovered there’s freedom in admitting that I don’t understand everything; that only God is all-knowing (omniscient). Since He’s my Savior, Redeemer, Father, and Defender, I can depend on Him for understanding in all things.
At this point, you may be thinking, “So she’s not omniscient – big whoop, join the club [yawn].” I’ll explain why this is such a big deal to me. When I was a kid, I didn’t receive much encouragement for anything, especially regarding my schooling. Actually, the opposite happened: lots of attention was given for bad grades and mistakes, but no recognition for good grades and achievements. Consequently, I grew up believing I didn’t have any positive qualities. I also believed I was just plain stupid. Of course, this wasn’t true – I aced English like it was second nature to me. But math was another matter – in 3rd grade I just couldn’t get 3-digit numbers. And decimals! – Forget it! By the time I got to 8th grade, I was failing math; somehow, I struggled through. In high school, I passed algebra and geometry by the skin of my teeth – then it was, Hasta la vista, Math. My English skills were excellent; I was even offered a special course in speed reading. But throughout my school years, I was called ‘STUPID’ because I was lousy at math. When I graduated, I thought I was too stupid to go to college. After all, only smart kids like my big brother went to college. Can you understand how insecure I was, always doubting myself?
I was ashamed and afraid that people would discover I was stupid. This had a profound impact on my ability to do my job in the Air Force. Although I had the aptitude for work in the electronics field, I so doubted my ability to learn, it’s a wonder I made it through tech school to be an autopilot specialist. During my first assignment working on airplanes, I was so afraid to show ignorance that I never asked questions if I didn’t understand something. I was blind to the fact that my reluctance to ask questions actually made me seem less intelligent. I compensated by shrinking back and letting other technicians do the more complex jobs. The result: low performance evals and delayed promotion.
I took a couple of college courses in the Air Force and got good grades (no math). Fast forward to my 25th year, when I gave my life to Jesus. Then I took some Bible classes and got straight A’s. By the grace of God, I was beginning to believe I wasn’t so stupid after all. In my late 30s, I went to college full time and started racking up the A’s – dean’s list every semester! I got scholarships and graduated cum laude. In grad school my good grades continued and I earned my M.A. from a European university, with honors. Not too shabby for someone ‘too stupid for college’, eh? I saw that God had given me a good brain and excellent intellectual ability. You’d think I’d be convinced that I wasn’t stupid. But there was a lingering scar from my childhood that needed healing.
In my late 40s, God took me through a season where I felt a lot of emotional pain. It was like He peeled off a scab on a deep wound so He could heal me properly. It was so hard – I was hurting from emotional wounds I’d suffered in my childhood. In the midst of it, I didn’t understand what was happening – I just cried a lot. Then one day, the light went on when God showed me what He was doing. At that point, I realized that I’m such a feeble creature; I don’t even understand my own self deep down. The amazing thing was that God showed me, He can see deep inside to the marrow of my bones, and I can ask Him for help understanding myself. The moment I realized this awesome truth, I felt liberated, secure in His knowledge forever. What joy I found in letting go of myself in a new way, knowing that I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t even have to completely understand my own self – if I’m confused or out of sorts, I can simply ask God, “What’s going on with me?” He gently, lovingly shows me every time I ask.
I’m still learning how to walk with Him in this way, but I love asking Him for understanding. Why do I need to know everything when I serve a God who is the source of all understanding? He’s no bully; He’s never called me ‘stupid’. Can you understand why one of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” This is freedom indeed!
Liberated woman – Courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net