Do you feel successful? Lately, I haven’t. I have been feeling down about where my life has led me. I worked so hard to get my business degree and then later went on to get my Human Resources Professional Designation. And as I worked in the Human Resources field, I went back to school again to get my Provincial Instructors Diploma.
All that schooling and I was at a job that I hated. I wasn’t getting paid much, and day in and day out I felt like a robot. Doing the same routines, fighting against corporate politics to initiate change, pouring hours of hard work into projects that, right at the finish line, get side barred by “other priorities”. I was exhausted, in my thirties and hating life.
I was by my definition NOT successful. So, I decided to make a big move and switch careers. Now, I’m back at school in a two-year program to become a teacher. And although I’m excited about the new venture, every day I go to class with twenty-year old’s who know what they want and look like they have it all together. I sit and question everything about my life. Why couldn’t I have had it all together when I was in my twenties? I’m exhausted going to school full-time, juggling family life, being a wife, and a mom of three young kids. The other day, I found myself crying in my kitchen as I made dinner because I was exhausted and feeling like a complete failure. Success seemed to enter everyone else’s life but mine.
Later that night I was still contemplating my failed life when I felt God ask me to define what I thought success looked like. So, I started to make a list:
- Working in a job that I love
- To be famous
- Making a difference and being recognized for it
- Having lots of money in the bank
- Large RRSP’s
- Being able to travel the world
And after I had exhausted that list, God asked me to make one more. He said, “what do I see as a successful life?” I immediately got goosebumps and felt like crying all over again. I knew he was trying to make a point. So, I struggled to come up with another list:
- Loving others
- Helping others
- Raising kids who love and know about God
- Giving money to support the church and others
- Following God’s purpose for my life
- Obeying God
- To sum it all up, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” Matthew 22:37
After completing the list, I immediately knew that I was focusing on the wrong things. I was defining success and seeing it through the eyes of the world rather than the eyes of God. If I was honest, I wasn’t hitting any of the things on my first list. But when I looked at the second list, I realized that I was achieving at least a few.
I didn’t come to this career switch lightly. I prayed about it, and I know that God opened the door for me to go back to school to become a teacher. It’s not easy, and every day I feel out of place because of my age, but I have to remind myself that I’m successful because I am following God’s will. Money is tight, but I know that somehow God will provide so that I can finish what he called me to do. I do my best every day to love my family and raise my kids so that they are kind, loving but most importantly building a relationship with God.
I realize now that I have to reconcile, in my heart, that I may never have a nice car or be famous or have a lot of money in the bank. And that feels sad. But then I think about what’s better, being successful by the world’s standards for ninety years at most? Or being successful in the eyes of God and living with Him for a billion years.
When I meet God one day, I want him to tell me I was successful, I want him to be proud of me and tell me that I did a good job despite the temptations that came against me. One of my favourite authors, Lysa Terkeurst, talked about how Satan uses our disappointment to lure us into temptation.
“When Satan senses feelings of disappointment, he knows that’s an area where we fear God will not come through for us. Fear is evidence of an erode trust in God. And an eroded trust in God, and an elevated trust in ourselves that we know better about what we need, desire or deserve is a setup for a big take-down by Satan. This is Satan’s perfect plan to lure us into his system of temptation, deception and accusation.” – Lysa Terkeurst
In the bible it talks about this very thing. “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
If you had to write a list of what makes you successful, what would it say? You may be more successful than you are giving yourself credit for when you look at God’s definition of success. Or maybe you are successful right now by the world’s standard, but God’s calling you to change your list. Either way, I hope this will inspire you to pursue a life that is deemed successful in God’s eyes.