And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever would save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” ~ Luke 9:23-25, ESV

I always thought coming to medical school would make me feel very smart–it is an easy assumption to make. After all, as medical students, we have battled thousands of other competitors for our spot and have emerged victorious. We have “supposedly” neared the pinnacle of our educational pursuits, approached yet another height of knowledge, and are now surrounded by brilliant ideas and people.

While all that may be true, the feelings of any grandeur that could be expected to come along with that “superiority” are often sadly lacking. I can honestly say that in my two years at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, I have never felt more exhausted, weak, and inept.

The reality of the medical field is one of a constant drive to perform, to succeed, and to compete. While so many good things come along with it, much of the time this all-out effort is just plain exhausting. There have been times when it took all I had just to lie on the floor and breathe in and out. In these moments, as awful as they often are, I have seen God more vividly than in any other place in my life.

God does not ask us to “get our lives together” all of the time. He does not withhold His love or His will from us until we achieve certain scores or milestones. So often we get caught up in thinking of God as too much like us.

Unfortunately, we forget that He does not act according to the world, not does He act according to our own plans (as much as we wish He would). He loves us even, and especially, in our weakest, most broken down, and selfish moments. It is the beauty of who He is. It is why He is not just our Friend and Teacher, but also our Savior.

I confess I often fall into the trap of trying to control my own life. Medical school is a great commitment to foster that temptation. While it feels great to do well on an exam or to be praised by my peers, I must constantly remind myself that it is not by my own power or for my own glory that I am here.

God calls us daily to deny our own ambitions and follow Him. When we faithfully choose to trust His strength and goodness above our own, we can let go of the many pieces of our lives that we struggle so hard to keep in their perfect places. We can find a true, joyful, and purpose-filled life. Is not that what we are all looking for anyway?

Clare Richardson, LLUSM class of 2015, is from Paradise Valley, Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University with a BS degree in biochemistry.