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Learning to yield
When I first began contemplating doctoral study, I was very willing to listen for God’s direction. Step by step, the way unfolded for me to attend a well-regarded university. However, when I entered the university, I became caught up in the drama and politics of the institution. I entered the school with the pure motive of learning, but I soon found myself swept up in maneuvering to be part of the most prestigious projects.
To take one example, I felt I just had to do research with a famous professor who was an authority on a topic that was of great interest to me. Although I was a good student, he wouldn’t allow me to work on his project because I wasn’t from his department, which he considered to be far superior to mine. It seemed to me and others that I was being discriminated against because of my department affiliation. I was absolutely devastated because I was accustomed to being respected for my academic ability. I felt rejected and cast out.
Yet even though this rejection brought me up short, it allowed me to learn an important lesson about human ambition and humility. It is natural to want to grow and improve since it is God who awakens within us the desire to go forward—this divine propulsion is what led me to enter a doctoral program in the first place. However, there also appears to be a counterfeit sense of desire, which is expressed as willful human ambition. Mary Baker Eddy calls this “mad ambition” (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 462). This false sense of ambition sets its sights on a goal and expects God to fall into line to produce the outlined outcome. This potentially ruthless sense of progress can get us into trouble because it is fueled by human will, not the divine will. It was more a sense of false ambition that motivated my desire to work with the prestigious professor.
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About the author
Kathy Dunton is a Christian Science practitioner living in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Antonia Zima, LittleChild, Graeme, Virginia Stopfel
Learning to yield
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