What's Success When You're Stuck?
*This post was written with the Five Minute Friday writing community. This week’s word prompt: success.
What words come to your mind when you think about success?
Accomplishment, achievement, winning, promotion...
It’s the definition of the world, formed by the culture around us, and it permeates as truth into our being, that we are measured and judged by our perceived accomplishments (or lack thereof), by the world around us.
At least that’s what we feel like sometimes, isn’t it?
We can feel beat up by judgement, inferior when compared to others, and purpose-less in our day-to-day.
Or we find ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances, and we feel like we are failing.
It’s how some of our farmers are feeling right now, as the harvest season is upon us. Farm machinery currently sits idle along the side of the field, water stands in the ditches and the saturated soil refuses the harvest to be brought in, after inches on inches of rain.
You’ve invested, given your time and resources and now you feel like your future is being held for ransom. The greatest challenge is having your hands tied, not being able to do what you want, or need to do.
It’s a metaphorical - and, for the farmer, a literal - STUCK.
So, how do we see success when we are compared with the world, or when our circumstances seem to dictate our future?
We are created to give Him glory.
I planted my garden in the spring, some by seeds, and others were small plants. I put them into the soil, watered, and fertilized them. I watched them grow with anticipation.
The purpose of my plants, is to grow and produce fruit.. and I gain the benefit of enjoying it!
In the same way, we have a purpose. Sometimes it may not seem as simple, but it truly is. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Amidst the many hats that we wear in a day, sometimes we may feel like a garden, instead of a plant. We feel like one minute we are a potato, the next we are a carrot, then the next moment we are a stalk of corn.
Our work, families and volunteer opportunities bring diversity to our lives and enrich us, but I think it can cause confusion, and we can lose confidence in our purpose and identity, as we try to meet expectations and our own versions of success in these different areas.
If we see ourselves within this single purpose, the one we have been created for, all the hats we wear fall underneath one umbrella and we measure our “success” in that context. Freeing us from expectations to measure up to someone else, or the world, and to fix our eyes on bringing glory to the One who created us, in all that we do.
Just like a plant, we have one purpose.
In our tough times, we are tended to.
It’s true, we find ourselves in difficult circumstances; ones that we cannot control or fix; we feel helpless, and powerless. Our battles with health issues, relationships that aren’t working and sometimes the weather just doesn’t seem to cooperate. We are stuck, and we wonder where, if at all, we find any success.
If we carry on with the plant analogy, we recall that if we are a plant, created for a single purpose, we also know that plants need to be tended to. Our Creator is our Master Gardener, the One who prunes, weeds and waters us.
There are times when a bug infestation, drought, or high temperatures will come and stress us; we feel chewed up and crawled on and starving for more water. Yet our Gardener has not left us, nor forgotten us. He bears our burdens, and has lovingly taken the biggest of our burdens onto Himself. The burden of our sin has been carried and taken away, through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Our biggest battle has already been won.
As our Gardener tends to us, we remember His promises, that He is always faithful to us, even when we are faithless to Him.
Thus, we can thrive in our little garden, as plants growing for Him. Learning the deep trust and dependance on Him every day.
The world can tell us what success is, according to it’s standards, but truth is, we don’t need the world to tell us our value and our goals. So, if you feel stuck today, remember your purpose and glorify Him in whatever you do today, with the confidence that He is walking alongside you.
How do you measure success?