When You’re Not-So-Very-Good

The most typical comment I get when people find out that I’m an architect:
1. “Edi magaling ka magdrawing?” (Then you draw well?)
2. “Magaling ka siguro sa math.” (You’re perhaps good in math)

Both statements, while true for most of my friends, aren’t very true for my case. I’m not a brilliant artist, and I’m not particularly quick on numbers too. Sometimes it surprises me that I even got to this point of my professional life, but of course, that would be 100% God.

Recently I joined the creative ministry in church, and got such comments again. It was all I could do to tell them not to expect too much; but until they asked me to cut pieces from styrofoam boards that they realized I wasn’t kidding. I sawed through the thing until it was sprouting particles; finally my friend (who was a lot younger than me) intervened and taught me how to hold the knife and glide gracefully (not aggressively stabbing) through the styro.

It was things like this that is teaching me more to be a little bit shameless and honest, merely because normally we all want to only show the things we’re good at. We gravitate towards what we’re naturally gifted with and I think that is how God intends for us to use His given talents. But we aren’t good at everything, and in a nutshell when we’re forced to do things that fall into that category, we pretend. We project an image of confidence that “of course, I am able to do this too,” and end up stabbing the styrofoam board. Not exactly impressive.

So I was thankful, when presented with a moment in which I screwed up, and I was helped to do better. In a sense, it would have been easy to feel more defensive and insecure, having failed and been taught, by a younger person too. And when I made mistakes at work, it would have been easier to shift blame or make an excuse than show people, professional people, how lacking I was. It could have been my default response.

All throughout my work training people would advise me: “Don’t let them know your weaknesses. Also don’t let them know all your strengths. Always put on an image that you know what you’re doing, even if you really don’t.” And for a while I carried that air.

When I made a mistake today, I honestly worried for a moment how my workmates would see me as. Would they be burdened by my lacking quality? Would they laugh? A moment more and I realized how petty those thoughts were, and how very full of pride. And I thought, how very useless pride is, when you are being made small. It would be burdensome if I let my improving stop because of a fit of pride. It wouldn’t teach me the right way quicker nor bring me to a state of dependence.

From all of these things that happened, I saw how quickly things became easier to bear and learn from in a position of ‘nothing’. Because in letting go of pride, it taught me to go closer to one that’s more knowledgeable and dependable. I recognized the value of the people around me who knew better and were willing to help me out (and I am so thankful for them!!). I saw how my boss was willing to help me improve than just letting pass a bad piece of work because she valued excellence (and excellence is worship to God). Because I knew I was terribly lacking, God showed up and reassured me that He is strong and dependable as I needed Him. The more I needed Him, the closer I drew to Him. My burdens became lighter.

Scripture says God gives grace to the humble. I saw so much grace today. What was normally depressing became a joyful reveal of God’s presence, and His kind assurance, “My grace is sufficient for you. You will do better next time.” I’m excited for next time.

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