James 1:2-4

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journeyand cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. James 1:2-4D

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Meaning of Success

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am employed as a Regional Coordinator for an organization that teaches kids about business and financial literacy.  One of the programs we teach looks at what success is and what it will take for a Jr. High student to achieve success in the future.  In the student workbook they define success this way:  "Success happens when you realize a dream you have imagined or take steps to accomplish the goals you plan to achieve."  This is a very good program and teaches young people some valuable things.  I've recently started to see success in a whole new way and agree more with the second half of that statement then the first and can't wait to share my new found wisdom next time I teach this program in a school.  

For the past six months I have been taking part in a weight loss program through my local church.  In one of my final lessons in the four book cirriculum that I have been studying it talked about success and how success is not about reaching a particular goal but about continuing on in the journey.  It read:  "You are a success because you are living life, not just passing through.  Success is not solely based on achievement.  Success is a willingness to make the effort.  Success keeps going, it never comes to a stop.  Success is your continual desire to live life, not just observe it."  

As I read this today a powerful truth hit me.  I've always wanted to be successful.  Successful in the worlds eyes I guess, similar to the definition above.  Success to me meant that I had achieved my goals, that I was someone, that I was important.  My success was where I found my worth, my self really.  This reading made me realize why failure has always been so devastating to me.  Why crtisim is so hard for me to hear and why my defense mechanism has always shot up the moment someone would crticize me or worse in some ways, speak truth to me. I probably desperately needed to hear it and perhaps God was using someone close to me to speak truth to me, perhaps to help me open up my eyes and allow God to transform me, I still found it hard to hear what they had to say.  In fact, I've been so afraid to listen and embrace the criticism, the truth of my failings because I was so driven to succeed.  To be perfect really, because I believed if I could only be perfect at everything I would be okay and that people would approve and like me more.  I would be successful.  Ha-ha!  This is so far from the truth it makes me laugh to think I even thought that ever.

The truth is this is so very, very far from the truth.  First of all, we are not perfect and never will be, in fact life is not perfect.  Secondly, there is nothing you can do to make people like you more, either they do or they don't, in fact what people think of you is none of your business,  your life is about you not them anyway.  I'm not saying this means you shouldn't care about people, but there is a fine line between caring about people and letting them define you.  I thank God that I am no longer a person addicted to the approval of others.  Does it still creep in some days, let me be completely vunerable and tell you this, Heck, Yes!  I still struggle with this occassionally, but I've come to realize how much I've grown and how much I've transformed.

You see the truth that I've learned is this, that it is in our imperfections that we are made perfect.  The Bible teaches in 2 Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Success is not really just about achieving a set goal or attaining greatness, it's about continually moving forward living life inspite of the imperfections, the flaws.  It's about experiencing the pain and the joy that comes with the reality of living life.  It's about being the person God created us to be.  Realizing this truth gives me strenth and courage to keep going no matter what I am facing.  To love myself in spite of the fact that I don't live in a perfect world and to accept the fact that others are only human and on the same journey as me.  The greatest thing we can do for ourselves and others is to encourage and congratulate eachother for the courage to keep going.  Now that's success!!

When you listen to your heart, do not allow others judgment of you from a far to waiver your journey.
For they have no idea where you are heading and that your journey is bringing you closer to God and a deeper awareness of who you truly are.  So keep on believing in yourself and never look back, for the road behind has been washed away by the changing tides of life, and the road before you has yet to be built.
For the only solid piece of ground upon which you can rely, is the one under your feet.  So therefore, walk forward one step at a time, fully aware that life is happening right NOW in that moment. Just keep walking and trusting that as you move forward the road will appear built just for you by God himself, and that with each new step you take, he will give you just enough light to see your way.   ~Laura Smith~

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