Success. It used to be a familiar word to me. I was confident, but I didn’t know I was also arrogant.
I was wounded severely by growing up extremely overweight. When I lost a significant amount of that weight in high school, it was just physical weight. The emotional burden was still very present, even if I didn’t know it. And, like all holes aching to be filled, it didn’t manifest itself demurely. I just had more energy to try to prove my worth through every outlet that I could. I succeeded in high school, and opportunities came rolling in…big opportunities. But a lot of stuff went down, and I basically tried to punish myself, for an increasing number of reasons. I had everything going for me, and I kept throwing it away, hurting everyone I loved in the process.
I didn’t really do it on purpose, but it felt appropriate. I didn’t feel worthy of real success. I didn’t believe what Jesus said about me – I didn’t even believe what Jesus said about Himself. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to make sure bad stuff didn’t happen to me. The more I tried to grasp for control, the messier my life got. Now, I struggle with anxiety every day. I usually feel like I can’t do anything. The smallest life skills can easily overwhelm me.
Just yesterday, I attempted to shower, get 3 kids to get their own showers and do their chores, plow through the aftermath of a weekend of camping, and find a way to feed everyone – twice (we woke up late). The much-coveted summer heat of Alaska was melting my resolve, and just herding my own squabbling children and their accompanying laundry was more than I could take. I texted my husband that if God had substitute moms, I’d be riding the pine. He just texted me that I was a great wife and mother and that he’d definitely pray for me. I thanked him, but didn’t believe him.
I found myself crying to my mom that it’s like I just want to hand in my mom card as I feel entirely ill-equipped to live life. She was quick to remind me who was the author of that, and she asked if there was anything she could do to help. I asked her for prayer, too.
My stress and anxiety lifted, for which I am entirely grateful, but oh, so forgetful.
I don’t think of myself as experiencing a lot of success since high school. Mostly, I’ve been in a repeating cycle of failure and self-inflicted punishment.
Because that’s just.
Because I think I’m not doing anything right, and I know better than anyone that I do not deserve to succeed.
But is a shabby self-assessment not so much über-humility as it is…pride? What if I let God be God, and me be His kid?
What if success doesn’t come because I deserve it, but because He grants it? What if He’s already granted me a ton of blessings that I refuse to acknowledge in the drunkenness of my self-pity?
What if, instead of striving for success, I just try my best to listen to what He wants me to do? Then whatever that inevitable hard work produces, is not my doing, but His (not to my credit or fault).
What if I remembered that I bring nothing to the table but my consent. That’s all He wants. He’s a gentleman. He won’t force His love on me, because that wouldn’t be love. When I do that – give Jesus carte blanche on my thoughts, my attitude, my life – I feel as abundantly loved as I already am.
I do not feel overwhelmed.
I do not feel unworthy.
I feel satisfied by God.
Maybe that’s success.
Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.