How many times have I made myself miserable by focusing on my unfulfilled hopes and desires?
How often have I stayed put for fear of appearing like a failure?
When haven’t I said that I’m not enough or not doing enough in order to meet a certain measure for success?
Sometimes life feels like an endless race where I just keep moving the finish line for myself. All it takes is a bit of unchecked envy or comparison to make me realize I’m doing everything wrong, am in danger of appearing as a failure, and at risk of being a lonely isolated failure forever. So I squint my eyes hard to look at that finish line and commit to work harder than anyone else in order to reach it before people learn THE TRUTH about me.
A New Standard for Success
Let’s forget that finish line for a second. Let’s forget what everyone else is doing.
What if that finish line for success and the fear of being found out as a fraud is actually holding you in bondage? What if the allure of freedom through success, money, influence, etc. is just a fleeting mirage of our consumer society? What if the people who appear to be on top are actually MORE TRAPPED than we are because they have all of the same fears as us and they need to maintain the appearance of having it all together?
I’m done with defining success as a particular accomplishment that we can measure with material possessions or online analytics.
Let’s define success as freedom.
Do you know that God loves you deeply and has sent you to love others?
Are you creating space in each day to rest in that love and in the presence of God?
Are you sharing that love and freedom in some way? Are you free to love your family and friends?
I’ve lived under the weight of anxiety, fear, and performing for others for far too long. Sure, there are many things that I can legitimately fear, but fear and scarcity become lifestyles that rob us of the gifts we should enjoy.
If you’re looking to define yourself or your day as a success, let’s ask this question: Am I living in freedom?
God Offers What We Need
The Gospel message that I have given my life to is about freedom, freedom in Christ and freedom through the Spirit. Our lives are hidden away in Christ and Christ lives in us. We have been set free for the purpose of freedom. This is the anthem of the Gospels and Epistles where Jesus and Paul repeatedly argued with people who wanted to add behavior requirements and mandatory rituals for followers of Jesus. Paul clearly stated that we don’t live in the freedom of Christ by subjecting ourselves to yet another written code.
The love of God frees us to love and serve others. There is a cost of following Christ, but there is also tremendous freedom as we drop the crushing weight of pursuing success and trying to identify ourselves by what we can earn or the influence we can gain.
It is extremely problematic to define ourselves by the flimsy judgments of others and the forces of the market.
I can’t do anything to make God love me more.
I can’t do anything to improve upon the freedom that God gives.
I can only choose to accept God’s freedom by faith and lean into it each day. That is where the real struggle of spirituality comes in for me.
Are You Thirsty for God? Then You Are In!
Each day I can either seek the presence of God and move toward freedom or I can seek outward measures of my worth and success. I can start to look at everything I haven’t achieved or I can rest in all that God has given me.
The good news is that even if we face this struggle daily, we can turn things around. We can stop the fear, anxiety, and longing for something, anything other than what we have.
Instead of working harder, getting more efficient, or adopting new ways to schedule productive days, we can opt out of the crazy, soul-crushing system. We can take the ultimate leap of faith into a moment of silence where we believe that God calls out to us: All who are thirsty, come!
What’s Your Next Step?
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Dig deeper with some helpful books: Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond and Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly are among the most helpful books I’ve read.