Was I Really Bragging?
The note clipped to the front of my essay was short and blunt: "I don't like where you're going with this essay. We need to talk."
I sighed heavily, rolled my eyes, and then got really mad. How could he NOT like this paper? I seethed. I did a great job.
For my expository writing paper, I was to write an essay that would point out areas of personal strength. I was sure I'd followed the assignment carefully and done a good job. Obviously, my English teacher didn't think so.
Before I had a chance to speak with him privately, my teacher decided to discuss some of the essays in class. He asked several of us to read our essays aloud—including me.
Still steaming, I began to read as the whole class stared my way. It seemed like an eternity until I finished the final sentence. Then my classmates commented.
"She seems a little hung up on herself."
"It's kind of like she was bragging too much."
"Like she's sort of stuck up … "
The next day I got up the nerve to talk privately with my teacher. With a tone that was gentle yet firm, he simply restated what others had already said. "You come across sounding, well, a little arrogant … "
After spending a couple of days feeling terrible, I started to think over what had been said about my essay. While it was hard to admit, my teacher and fellow classmates were right. I did sound like I was bragging about myself.
I also noticed something else about my paper. I had completely failed to mention my faith. While I don't think I have to bring up God in every paper I write, I should mention him when it seems right to do so. And a paper about my gifts and talents would seem like the right place. After all, any abilities I have are from God. Yet I'd taken all the credit for them.
I totally rewrote my paper. This time around I tried hard to remove or tone down words and phrases that made me sound like I was bragging. I also ended the paper by giving God the glory for any talents and gifts he's given me.
While the whole experience was really tough, I felt a whole lot better about my second attempt. And I can't help but think that God does, too.
Copyright © 2000 by the author or Christianity Today/Campus Life magazine. Click here for reprint information on Campus Life.