School is probably the easiest thing to be stressed out about. The homework, quizzes, exams, midterms, and finals… yuck.
As I grew up, my parents were not the basic Chinese tiger parents that required me to have straight A’s. They just told me to try my best, and that was enough for them. I often didn’t try my best, slacked off, and that’s when I would get grounded. But they never became mad at me for getting a bad grade when I tried my absolute best.
At the end of high school, the pressure and competition from my peers caught up to me and it was hard to receive a bad grade when I thought I deserved a better one. Exams gave me a lot of anxiety and I constantly checked my grades while calculating to see what I needed to get on an exam in order to obtain an A in the class. Going to school became a place where people boasted about their good grades and complained about their failures. Our goal as students was to get good grades to get into a good college.
A Collegiate Perspective
In the beginning of my first college semester, I was so stressed about my grades because I had no idea what college was like. I completely broke down in despair after taking my first midterm because I thought I had failed. I was constantly checking my grades and I learned that college professors don’t input grades online as consistently as high school teachers. I was stressed about school and it didn’t help that the transition to college was not easy. So I often turned to prayer to help me through the day. I knew that I had to trust in God’s sovereignty and to daily turn to him for strength. Surrendering my desires to Christ helped me to experience peace in my heart and mind (Phil 4:6-7).
I learned from my professors that going to college isn’t just to get good grades and a degree, but to truly learn. To learn skills that will help me in a future job. To learn and train my brain to think critically. To know how to live life after college.
A Biblical Perspective
I learned from Scripture that going to school and doing everything I do isn’t for my own glory, but it is for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Learning is a gift from God and an opportunity to explore and further be in awe of God’s creation. Everything I learn from school are the effects of God’s infinite power and wisdom. God created the entire universe, and all the knowledge in it comes from Him. He created our minds to think the way they do. He made our minds for the purpose of thinking. Whether we are reading God’s Word or a linear algebra textbook, this is what our minds are made for.
Therefore, my goal as a student isn’t to get that “A” grade, but instead to try my best in everything that I do and work for the glory of God. I can honor God through my studies by practicing self-control; for example, not looking at another person’s test answers when I don’t know the answer. I can honor God through going to classes by being a blessing to those around me; for example, being kind and helping others out when they don’t understand the lesson, instead of focusing only on myself. I can even honor God through my quiet moments at school in the library by reminding myself that my worth is not in what I can do and what I have, but instead is in the cross of Christ.
Grades, Grace, and Gospel Purpose
The gospel gives me purpose for college. Without it, there is no meaning for me to study or work hard. The gospel teaches me what it means to have true hope and peace. I can’t receive everlasting joy from the grades I get, or the lessons I learn, or the classes I take. All these things are meant to point me back to the Creator of the universe. The things that I obtain from school, even knowledge itself, is supposed to bring me back to the gospel of Christ. Everything that happens to me during school, whether it be failing or succeeding, should remind me of the grace of God. When I fail, God humbles and teaches me to be joyful still and trust His sovereign will. When I succeed, I thank God for his blessings.
My parents taught me how to work hard, and Scripture taught me how to give my hard work to Christ. As I am currently studying and learning in school, God has taught me that while I should gain intellectual knowledge, I should use that to ultimately seek the infinite wisdom of God.