Was I going to flunk?

Originally appeared online in the teen series Trending -  October 11, 2022

It was my first year in law school, and one of my professors was completely intimidating. He was brilliant, but he didn’t have much patience for mistakes. I studied hard, but still spent every class cowering in the back and avoiding eye contact.

The night before the final exam, I began to panic. Concepts that I had studied many times suddenly seemed fuzzy, and I would read the same sentence over and over without retaining any of it. I began to imagine flunking the test and—why stop there?—flunking out of law school.

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Obviously, none of this thinking was particularly inspired, so it came as a welcome surprise when a thought came to mind that I recognized from my study of Christian Science as being from God. It wasn’t your typical message. But it had a power and authority behind it that I’d come to identify with thoughts from God, rather than with something I’d come up with on my own.

The message said, “So you flunk this exam. So what? Do you really think God will love you less? Or love you more if you do well on it? The very nature of God is Love. His love doesn’t depend on your performance on this exam, and your identity doesn’t either. If law school isn’t the right place for you, Love will guide you to a place that is right—one where you can find activity that satisfies you and blesses others.” 

In retrospect, I might have expected an idea more along the lines of “God is the source of your intelligence, and He will give you the answers you need!” This would have been equally valid, but the message I received got to the root of what I needed, which was to understand that neither this exam nor any other human circumstance held the key to my identity or my future. And this idea resonated with me so much that the fear I’d been feeling completely vanished. I closed the lawbook and slept peacefully through the night. 

The three-hour exam the next day consisted of three essay questions. As I read the first one, I understood immediately what to do. There was a straightforward answer, but the response that was needed was more subtle and required a deeper understanding of the material. The other two questions were similar. 

The concepts and words flowed effortlessly as I wrote. I knew from the teachings of Christian Science that there’s only one Mind, God; therefore, the intelligence behind the creation of the exam must also be behind the answers to the exam. And I felt the presence of that divine intelligence with every sentence I composed. I turned the test in, feeling that I had done reasonably well. 

I didn’t know how well, however, until a week later, when grades were distributed. This “intimidating” professor sought me out, shook my hand, and informed me that I’d received the highest grade in a class of over a hundred students. He graciously added that my answers had been “magnificent!” At first, I was shocked, but I was also filled with gratitude to God.

I wish I could say this was typical of the rest of my law school experience! It wasn’t, but it did provide a solid foundation for successfully completing my studies. Interestingly, I practiced law for only a few years before moving on to other things, which just proves the point of the experience: It was never about a grade, a course, a degree, or a career. It was about trusting God and realizing that the substance of my life consists of the expression of His qualities rather than the particular form that expression takes at any given moment.

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