With the semester coming to a close, final exams being administered, and winter graduation parties being planned all throughout the country; I think all of us non-graduates are sharing a collective sigh of self-pity.
While I am absolutely ecstatic for my graduating counterparts and their new endeavors in life, I am also extremely angry (at myself more than anything) that I am so far behind in my attempts at getting a "higher education". I am 23 years old, and currently, I do not even hold enough credits for an associates degree. I have watched many friends and family members of my own age (or sometimes even younger) graduate from college and go on to do some amazing things. And every time this occurs, I share both happiness for them, and resentment with myself. I keep thinking that at my age, I could have done so many great things by now if only I had that fancy piece of paper to back me up in the real world.
Deep down, I know that my own personal issues with procrastination and my undeniably unique life choices are to blame for my slow pace. I have left school more times than I can count to pursue various career paths that seem exhilarating at the time (ie. my year spent as a flight attendant). What I lack in higher education, I make up for in job history. I have managed to work in customer service, hospitality, aviation, and ministry all within the last seven years. But, unfortunately, employers do not always see job history as an impressive accolade. Often times, employers won't even look your way without the fancy piece of paper that (allegedly) backs up your intellect, credibility and respectability. It almost feels like these people are basing my worth and my value on one lousy piece of paper, and that really hurts.
As a Christian, however, we should not buy into this nonsense. I am not saying that we shouldn't get degrees, I am saying that we shouldn't tie our worth to them. Whether you have five graduate degrees, no graduate degrees or no degrees at all; Jesus still loves you, I promise.
It is so easy to get caught up in this "do or die" mindset, especially when you are on the hunt for a new job (like myself). I personally have fought feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, self-pity, anger, depression, and so much more after getting turned away over and over again (due to my lack of a degree).
But recently, I was boldly reminded that my identity is NOT found in anything of this world. My identity is not found in a college degree. My identity is not found in a career or a job. My identity is not found in anything that may happen to me by chance, choice, or circumstance. My identity is found in Christ, and Christ alone. He is the One that fills my spirit and raises me up from the pits of my own self-pity. He is the One who sees me as I really am (flawed, fragile, and full of doubt), yet He loves me still. He is the One who builds me up when I cannot bear to even look at myself in the mirror. He is the One who gives me worth in the moments that I feel worthless. He is the One who saves and the One who seeks me relentlessly even on the days where I least deserve His love. I am nowhere near perfect, but I serve a God who is and that is a far greater gift than any college degree could give me.
Chances are, I will fall back into the pity and the doubt once again, because let's face it, we all have bad days. I might never get a college degree, I have no idea what God has in store for me (career-wise). But I want to encourage my non-graduating peers, be happy for your friends who have made it. This is not your time, but eventually, it will be. And whether you are earning a college degree next week, next year or never, do not let a degree (or lack thereof) define your life. Find your worth in something far greater than this world could ever offer, find your worth in the Creator of the Universe. For He is the only sure thing we can ever truly count on.