Trial by Nerdy Fire

Early last summer, I was wrapping up a grant proposal that had not been awarded the year before but had received positive feedback. As a project team, when we decided to resubmit, we knew it would require significant changes based on the recommendations..

And, because it was a multi-state, multi-institutional project, it was a significant time investment over the course of two months—specifically because we were including a new project partner.

Because I have competitive tendencies, when the whispers of winning and coming out ahead catch my attention, I often pray that the Lord will keep me humble. I know myself, and thankfully, the Lord knows me better.

As the submission deadline approached, I felt confident that the probability of our proposal getting funded this year would be pretty high. 

On the day it was due, we were still waiting for a sign-off from one of the partnering institutions’ grants office. As each hour of the day passed, new obstacles to getting the final sign-off kept surfacing. At 4:50p.m. (the proposal was due at 5 p.m.), the sign-off came, and my grants office worked to expedite their final steps for submission. 

As I had been working at home that day, my husband watched the whole thing unfold as I literally was on the phone with my face buried in the couch seat cushion, waiting hopelessly for confirmation from the office that the proposal was submitted. Finally, we received a confirmation that it was received at 5:01 p.m. 

My husband declared that he had just witnessed the greatest nerd challenge he’d ever seen. 

Two weeks later, I received an email from the funder that our proposal would not be reviewed because it was submitted past the deadline. 

A single minute past the deadline. 

I was devastated. There was not a thing I could do. All that work, time, and energy poured into pulling it together, and the confidence it would be funded was down the drain. 

But, I realized what I could do was just pray… pray out my frustrations, sadness, and sense of defeat. 

The Lord knew them already anyway. As He allowed me to feel all the emotions, He also brought me up out of them. And, thankfully, sooner than later, I came to realize I just wanted to better understand how I could grow in my faith in Him, despite such a disappointment. 

As the weeks passed, and my competitive self became acutely aware of others’ successful grantsmanship, my natural bend was to almost lament their success. But, in the midst of my lament, I realized that God was more interested in developing my character than in developing my CV. 

I also realized it is imperative to invite the Lord to work alongside me in every aspect of my work because I want and need God to produce Christ-likeness in my life.

And if that means dealing with my competitive streak and keeping me humble by thwarting my grant proposal because it was a minute late, then I know He means it for my good.  After all, He’s really the one whose approval I need.

Abigail Borron

Agriculture Leadership, Education & Communication

University of Georgia

Abigail Borron

Agriculture Leadership, Education & Communication

University of Georgia

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