What do you picture when you think of a successful person? Media prompting – we’ll most likely picture a well healed business man/woman dressed in the best money can buy, or maybe a celebrity living the high life in a palatial mansion. I’d challenge that concept though.
Firstly the notion of success first requires a choice of what goal you desire to be successful in. Talking to young people, I’ve noticed an alarming trend to simply accept the goals promoted so often in the media (as stated above) without conscious thought or choice, often not even perceiving there are other goals. This is a mistake, not only because not all are fitted for these particular callings (thank God!) and may feel discouraged and lacking when they can’t attain them, but also the ones who do succeed have a tendency to be the saddest, most miserable of mortals.
There’s a great saying – “Before you climb the ladder of success make sure it’s leaning against the right wall!”
I like my son’s goal – to marry and make a happy family (sadly he’s yet to achieve that one having discovered you need a woman with the same goal – his ex being a bit of a gold digger!) Then there are my daughters’ goals. Some went for financial goals and succeeded, (it came at a price though – it always does). One choose ethical teaching ( succeeding and becoming a successful business woman as a result, without compromising her integrity). Another wanted to help her autistic son realize all he could of his potential (I honor her choice highest of all.) She’s succeeding miraculously but there was a lot of sacrifice involved. My youngest wants to leave something of value behind in the way of literature (she’s still setting out.) Even in my own family goal can vary greatly.
I have a second reason also to challenge the accepted notion of success. As a Christian (and human being) I believe in the end we are rated on our degree of love, humanity and integrity. Whether you believe appraisal will come in a look of pity and disappointment by an all loving God or the legacy you leave behind in the way of fond (or not so fond) memories.
I somehow don’t think most financial high fliers and celebrities are going to score high on those ratings. I rather see the struggling, single mum, the street sweepers who greet everyone with a sunny smile on the rainiest of days, the relief worker who cries himself to sleep under the weight of care for others, these are the one’s I see who are the real successes of life, who bring a radiant smile to the eyes of God, who are treasured in the lives of others.
So don’t feel bad if you don’t see yourself as “successful” maybe you score higher than you know!
I’ve always been an idealist with high expectations of myself (and others – ask my poor ex lol!) I always wanted to be an “A+ student” in life. Whereas shooting for the stars and expecting miracles is a great way to live what happens when you fall, when you plummet down to the depths in defeat and failure? (It happens to us all). You get up and try again (of course) but a lot depends on your frame of mind.
If you pummel yourself with guilt and shame at not being able to reach those unrealistic expectations you’re heading for a crash. Here’s where being able to laugh at yourself is one of life’s greatest assets. While in my sensitive teens I once slipped in my trendy platform soles and managed to bump on my bum a good part of the way down the escalator of Piccadilly Circus landing in a heap with my mini skirt up to my waist and my legs in the air among a crowd of commuters. I wasn’t badly hurt (mostly my pride and dignity) but a big crowd formed asking anxiously if I was OK. I had two choices – laugh or cry. Thankfully I chose the former and the lesson has stayed with me. Sometimes in life the best thing to do is laugh at yourself and remember that, with all our good intentions, we are not God and we are going to screw up sometimes, lots of times! I’ll repeat that last part “we are not God” it’s important!
Often idealistic people set unreasonable expectations on themselves and I’ve had to learn the hard way that I can’t always hit every ball, and help every person that comes my way. Sometimes I’ll even fail those I love most. This is not because I’m a bad person, a screw up, loser etc. etc. it’s because I’m human. I’m not God.
Life can sometimes hand us more than we can bear, too many packages or burdens at once. At such times it’s important to be honest with ourselves and others and get some help. Some packages we can redistribute to others, some set down in storage till later, but some, sadly, we sometimes just have to drop. This has been one of the toughest lessons for me, sometimes I just have to let go of something trusting that God will catch it somehow I don’t see.
I was born with a mother’s heart and have a tendency to “adopt” folks along the way, to feel a responsibility for my fellow man (and especially for children and young adults) but if you stretch yourself too thin like an elastic band you’re apt to snap. My son has lectured me on this many a time, trying to safeguard me, “Mum it’s not your responsibility,” he’ll say, “You don’t have to try to fix everything.” I’ve come to see he is right in a way. The ultimate responsibility is God’s and only He can handle it sometimes. It’s not that we shouldn’t try, but we need to understand that when that package slips from our hand we need to remember “I am not God” (or “a god” if you happen to be atheistic) I’m only human this will happen from time to time and not beat ourselves up about it.