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I work as a teaching assistant in a specialist educational needs secondary school. One of the reasons I love my job is because they totally redefine success. In our day to day world we come into contact with so many expectations. Peer pressure, deadlines, targets; and this can lead to comparisons, feeling inadequate, jealousy… stress.

I find its more a culture of looking at what we haven’t achieved yet rather than looking at what we can already do, or what we are going to do next to improve. Even with something as simple as running late; “it’s half past eleven already and I haven’t even done my emails yet!”

In an environment where uniqueness is explicitly evident, somehow acceptance and equality is much more natural. Each student is working through their own targets, and they are relative to them. Whether they may be working towards feeding themselves or getting ready to live independently, each one is valuable and valued legitimately; and all are met where they are and encouraged forwards. This is where my role comes in.

Each of us are unique and special. We also are on our own walk with God. We can’t achieve someone else’s targets because they aren’t relative to ourselves. But sometimes, as we look over to someone else who seems to be achieving far greater things, it is hard to trust that Gods plan for us is right for where we are now. What we need in those moments is acceptance, and trust. Although I’ve seen frustration at school, the students are honest and accepting of where they are. From there they can work forward, achieving the appropriate sized steps.

If we could approach our lives with that same grace, I believe our life of comparison and playing a constant game of catchup would look a lot different. And maybe we’d actually all grow more.  

I pray we can celebrate our strengths, and where we’ve come from. That with grace that we can look to God, and not across the lanes to another path. And that from here we can walk securely in the truth that we are valued and love and accepted.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Nicki Lillie

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