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I’m Not An Expert

My brain was overloaded. The letters on the page that I was trying to read were a jumbled mess and I recognized maybe two or three words. But with my dissertation defense less than 24 hours away, I knew I had to find a way to keep going! That’s when I decided to take my dog, Sparta, out for a walk. The poor thing needed fresh air and I needed to clear my head. I walked around my neighborhood in a daze.

“How am I going to do this?” I thought to myself. Since beginning graduate school, it was etched in my mind that my entire purpose for being here was to become an expert. Once I was an expert, I’d be able to defend my dissertation and graduate. And here I was, so close to defending and the last thing that I felt like was an expert.

That’s when I saw my friend and new neighbor, Kate. Kate is always fun to run into when I’m walking Sparta. Those two always get so excited when they see each other and it’s fun to watch them interact. But I will always be grateful for Kate’s interaction with me that day.

After Kate asked me how I was doing, the floodgates of emotions opened and I explained to her how afraid I was that my defense was scheduled for the next day.

“I thought by now I would know everything!” I exclaimed! “I don’t know everything! I don’t feel like an expert!”
Kate laughed, “Ay nena!” using the expression that is so common in her native country of Puerto Rico. It literally means, “Oh, little girl!”

I laughed, because I knew exactly what she meant. Of course I didn’t know everything and it was silly to expect that of myself. I’d worked hard and learned as much as I could. I could talk about my subject confidently. And you know what, my hard work shone through during my defense. Yes, I used a lot of “ums” during my presentation. Yes, I gave some less-than-articulate answers to some of the questions. But overall, I had shown that I was willing to work hard and think through difficult problems. And maybe, at this point in my career, that’s what’s important. Expertise will come later.

I have a feeling that this kind of thinking is applicable to my spiritual life as well. There are times when I hold myself back from serving God because, “I don’t feel like an expert.” But I have a suspicion that “expertise” is not what God is asking of me:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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