Hey, Stephanie here. I’m a senior nursing major at Belmont and I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Here’s the deal: some of us have a tendency to desire perfection, or at least our perception of it. Within our limited capabilities as humans, we strive hard towards a rather unattainable goal. Yet, it’s never quite enough— and only ends up exhausting all of our emotional resources that could be spent loving others and living in our belovedness.
I’ve recently come to realize that perfection is never part of relationships. Let’s face it: when you spend extended amounts of time with someone, they see the messy parts of you along with the beautiful parts. Being in community does that.
As an intern at Preston Taylor Ministries, I’ve been put in situations in which my good, bad, and ugly shows in all its glory. Mentoring and loving 30 Junior High students every day? There are the days when all the coffee isn’t enough, the days it feels like you’ve been put in a bounce-house with tens of the most energetic and life-filled kids you’ve ever met and are expected to remain standing.
But there are moments. Quiet-yourself, take-off-your-shoes-and-kneel moments, because this just might be a burning bush. Those moments I hold tight to my heart, because they’re preciously rare but the very basis of why I’m here. Sometimes, it’s a student approaching me at the end of a long day to share her dreams for the future and ask my advice. Sometimes, it’s simply a hug and “Thanks, Miss Stephanie” as they run out the door to the bus, somehow feeling like they’re saying much more. Sometimes, it’s having a student describe a loss and just ask me to sit with him. And then, sometimes, it’s the best: when they share an insight or lesson God is teaching them, giving a sliver-small glimpse of God growing deep and wide in their hearts. These happen and, as an intern with PTM, I wake up every morning thanking God for whatever moment he may grant today.
Growing in relationship with these students as we study Scripture and our surroundings, create, paint, field-trip, slip-n-slide, ice-skate, laugh, and cry together removes any semblance of perfection I think I’ve somehow maintained. It strips me of the ability to pretend I’m more or less than I am because kids see through it. In a sense, it’s a whole new kind of encounter with Jesus for me. This hard work creates a place where they can be real with me (and we get real sometimes) and where I can be real with them, only hoping that the Lord will use my gifts to bless their hearts. It feels like a partnership in growth and freedom.
I’m deeply loving this opportunity to see God work. In the process of volunteering at PTM, He has begun in me a transformation that I never saw coming. God often uses those who feel least equipped, but who are most willing. Are you willing?