We received the following reflection from an ESN member, a young faculty member at a public research university, with the request to publish it anonymously. Have you experienced similar thoughts and feelings on your academic journey? Have you struggled with either confidence in yourself or reliance on God? If you would like to contribute to the Emerging Scholars Blog, anonymously or otherwise, contact me or Tom. ~ Mike
There was a time when the likelihood of getting published felt so small that every success felt like such a large dollop of God’s grace and provision. I remember the feeling of awe when I got an acceptance on the first try submitting to a highly regarded journal, something that almost never happens. My abilities were so fledgling that I knew that God had made a way for me to be competitive on the job market, with much abundance.
And then I got better at writing journal articles, more comfortable with the formats and formulas. I began to expect success, if not right off the bat, at least a pretty favorable R&R (“revise and resubmit”), which I would turn around into an eventual acceptance. My list of my publications grew, and people kept asking the secret to my productivity. “Just develop a thick skin for rejection and try to write every day,” I’d say with fake humility. Eventually after being rejected from several presses, my book got accepted. I knew it was a gift from God, but I also somewhat felt that I somehow deserved the success–its acceptance felt almost inevitable. I had revised the book so much through the stages of rejection that I knew that it was a much better manuscript and worthy to be published. So thanks God, but yeah, I really did work hard on that one.
But lately when I find myself ready to apply for a grant or fellowship, I don’t feel more confident in my abilities, but less confident. It’s somewhat ironic because as someone with a position at a top research institution with a decent list of publications, I’m a much more competitive candidate than I have ever been. I wonder where the uneasiness comes from. I’m guessing that it’s partially because I’ve been rejected for my fair share of grants and fellowships, and partially because deep down inside I feel insecure of whether I have “what it takes” to be a really good scholar.
So applying is scary, but in a weird way, it’s rejuvenating. It makes me desperate again, desperate to lean on God’s provision and not my own abilities, desperate to lean on the Spirit instead of the flesh, desperate for me to have confidence that my value is not in what I achieve but who I am as a child of God. That no matter how many rejections pile up in work or other areas of life, that my identity is secure and I stand on the rock of God. Easier said than done, but it’s my only hope, and a hope that does not change regardless of what life throws my way.