Success…What is it, anyway?

Success-Failure-SignSuccess…that little word has caused me more nights of restless sleep lately then I even realized.  What is success, anyway?  Is it defined by your material possessions, the money in your bank account, the number of blog readers, Twitter followers, or Facebook friends you have?  For us Christians, are you successful based on how many souls you have led to the feet of Jesus, how many mission trips you have been on, or how many different areas you are serving in at church every week?  And the better question may be:  how do you know when you’ve reached it…success?  Is there possibly a time when you can look in the mirror and say, “Yep, this is it!  I have arrived.  I am now a success!”

Webster’s defines success as:  favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence; one who succeeds.

We were blessed with my Sweet Hubby getting a raise last week…a nice one & well deserved.  That same afternoon, I sent him a text asking him to pick up tea bags on his way home from work.  I ended my text with, “Thanks and love you, successful husband!”  I meant it as an encouragement and way of saying “Yay! I am celebrating with you!”  His reply?  See for yourself:

DSC_0764Ouch!  Is that true?  Did I not see him as successful when he was barely making enough to make ends meet while I stayed home with the kids?

In my own life too.  I worked in corporate banking for 10 long years, all the while feeling like a failure because I spent so little quality time with my kids.  So, when the opportunity to stay home for a season presented itself, I jumped at the chance!  I have spent the last four years adjusting from being a mom of two to a mom of four, taking on the task of homeschooling, and struggling with bouts of too much month at the end of the money.  And this blessing from the hand of God…this ability to be home like I had always dreamed of, has recently left me feeling flat.  I have felt the seed of discontentment creeping in.  I have heard the hiss of doubt…is this enough, does what you’re doing really matter, is this really what your life should look like?

My dreams have come true and I find myself complaining about countless loads of laundry, endless bickering of siblings, always a mess in the floor, and crumbs that apparently are invisible to everyone but me.  If I am honest, I remind myself of the Israelites.  Ouch, again!

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  ~Psalm 37:4  

God gave me this verse as a promise when I was feeling like a failure for sacrificing family for career.  I started seeking Him hard and serving others with my already limited free time.  I tested Him and He was proven trustworthy.  My Daddy God has blessed me with answered prayer and now four years later, I spit in His face by growing impatient with the very blessings of home and family that He answered my prayers with.

Ouch, yet again!  That one really hurts.

I was trying to express this to Sweet Hubby this past weekend.  Trying to help him see how so much time at home with just me and the kids was draining physically and emotionally.  Tried to make him see how much running my Etsy shop has meant to me because I have always been a maker and making is my outlet, my way of feeling grounded, expressing my God-given creativity, and just overall making me feel like myself when so often I just feel like a servant to other people…people much smaller than I am and it doesn’t even occur to them to say thank you most of the time.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, he hit the nail on the head.  Flat out told me that success to me, meant money.  Told me that I measured success by how much money he made and how many Etsy sales I had in a week.  Said that I didn’t feel successful as a wife and mother and homeschool teacher, because I wasn’t paid for it (not in dollars, anyway).

Ouch, again!  {Okay, starting to feel bruised here.}

Is he right?  I hate to admit it, but I think he probably is.  I think I have fallen prey to the materialism that is plaguing our world.  The lie that we can somehow have enough stuff to feel successful.  That “stuff” might be money, or sales, or position, or respect, or Bible studies.  It is different for everyone, but if we are depending on “stuff” for a feeling of success, we will always feel flat.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.   ~Isaiah 64:6

And why am I worried about having enough “stuff” anyway?

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”  ~Matthew 6:25-33

(Source: ensphere, via lajoiedespetiteschoses)

(Source: ensphere, via lajoiedespetiteschoses)

We can never be successful enough on our own.  Even if we feel successful on this earth, what does it matter?  How much of this “stuff” is going to really matter for all of eternity?  In the end, only one thing matters:

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  ~Luke 15:10

Souls…they are all that matter.  Not money or fame, not business or Facebook, only people.  People are all that matter.

And aren’t my little ones people?  Aren’t they worthy of any effort toward success?  And shouldn’t I measure success by whether they are growing to love Jesus more and learning to walk with Him every day?

Father, please forgive me for losing sight of the important…for focusing on earthly success instead of seeing Your heart.  Thank you for a husband who speaks the Truth, even when it hurts.  And help me to see my calling as a wife and mother as the most worthy position of all.   

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Success…What is it, anyway?

  1. While it’s true that measuring success by money is too narrow, I think you need to ensure there’s good chat with hubby that you have different facets of yourself that maybe struggling to be expressed and set free…outside of being a mother and wife. It also takes energy to suppress some good natural skills that are not being well used in these 2 roles in your life and also you have your own natural long term interests.

    Feed them and hopefully with support of hubby to look after kids while you volunteer elsewhere, etc. from time to time. This has nothing to do with successful but being whole to yourself…and to your children: as they grow older they should learn to see you more than just the mother.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Jean. You are right…we have to be true to ourselves while fulfilling our responsibilities to others. I didn’t mean to make it sound like Hubby wasn’t supportive. He is. He knows crafting is a part of who I am, something I just have to do, and that my business is so important to me. And the kids do too. My oldest is 12 and she is already talking about when she has her own shop, so I hope I am inspiring a can-do attitude in her. As the little ones grow older, I know I will have more time to pursue my interests and grow the business more. Until then, I craft every chance I get and enjoy time with the family when they need my attention. It’s a delicate balance that I do my best to keep. 🙂

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