How Jesus is Keeping Me Humble and What The Nail Tech Found When She Was Searching My Soul

I’ve got good news, bad news, and a new manicure so I’m going to tell you about all of them. Hold on tight.


I work at a summer camp. I love summer camps and love the intense bonds you get with your co-workers and with the students you’re in charge of. I have worked at a variety of camps in a variety of ways and I think I am pretty good at it. I engage well with parents, I’m well spoken, I enjoy making a fool of myself so children will laugh.

So this past week I was asked to take over the running of the office for the last two weeks of camp, and feeling confident in myself and my skill set I readily accepted.

This is the good news. I have been promoted. My skills have been seen and appreciated. I feel proud of myself for this.


I suck at math. I cannot count back change. I cannot do simple addition without using my fingers and sometimes toes. Don’t ask me to add sums in my head. Don’t even thinking about talking to me about percentages or fractions unless you want me to rip your soul into shreds.

So, yesterday when I was sitting down at the Person Education office in downtown Oakland to take my CBEST (WHICH IF YOU DON”T KNOW INCLUDED MATH!) I was nervous. I had studied some on an online test, but assuming that the online test, which I passed, was more difficult than the real version I didn’t think it would be the end of the world. We weren’t allowed a calculator but I was going to be okay.

Or so I’d hoped.

Many people had told me that test was simple. Easy. A breeze. They took it without studying.

Well, I failed the math section. When I was handed my results I am sure I went as white as my thighs in winter.

“I failed. Now everything is going to think I am a big fat idiot. Nobody is going to like me. They won’t want to be my friend. How could you fail a math test, you’re so stupid Jenoa. No wonder you’re single. You’re stupid, you’re fat. You’re not even funny. You’re just so stupid.”

Those were my thoughts as I  rushed to the bathroom to start crying. To be honest, those thoughts are still in my head. The recesses of my brain where bad ugly sad thoughts take up residence.

I had failed a simple 8th grade level math test and my day, my plans, my entire life, was ruined.


So, I did what every human would do in that situation, I called my mom and cried. My poor math teaching mom who ended up with a daughter who can’t count to 10 without using her fingers. She felt terrible for me and bought me a mani/pedi because that’s a good cure for sadness. She repeatly assured me that I wasn’t stupid, that math is hard. That Oakland doesn’t realize how great of a sub they will be missing.

And I kinda believed her, I guess. The big bad sad mean thoughts were still in charge of my thoughts so I just accepted her words and drove myself to the nail shop.

There the kind nail tech could tell I was upset and kept looking me deep in the eyes trying to feel my soul. I didn’t let her in, I was still to upset. Try all you want lady, I am an iron curtain of emotion and you will not get passed my anger, rage, and most of all embarrassment.

Let me sit in this massage chair and steep in my bitterness, my sadness, my shame.


The longer I sat in my magical massage chair (you know what I’m talking about, those chairs are magical) my anger abided. I was able to see, a little, atleast that I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t completely stupid.

Three people texted me right away asking how I was and telling me not to worry, they too were bad at math, that they didn’t think I was stupid, they still wanted to be my friend.

One friend told me that perhaps God has new bigger better plans for me. That is what I am going to believe. That’s what I am going to hold tight to.

God gave me a gift this week, a promotion. I quickly took all the credit for that and celebrated how great I was.

Then God gave me another gift, he helped me fail a math test. He ensured that I know who is in control and who holds my future.

The Regeneration mission statement comes from Micah 6:8 “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

This verse is hanging right beside my bed where I see it every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, this week God decided to give me a lesson in humility whether I was ready for it or not.


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