The Measuring Stick of Success

Someone I know recently asked: How do you measure success?

One person suggested that they would see themselves as successful when they were featured on Ellen. I found several other people suggesting that success came with happiness.

After this week, I’m not so sure that I would fit my definition in either one of those categories when it comes to success.

Looking into my life from the outside, I am by no accounts successful. I am working a seasonal job at Target. I live with my parents. Yep, I just put that out there and I hate it. It makes me grit my teeth to admit where I am in my life right now. It has left me in a period where I have had to make strides to overcome self-pity along with self-hate. I have had to make strides to see that this point in my life is not a measure of my success.

So here I am again, walking my parent’s dog and asking myself: How do I measure success?

Ellen? Happiness? Fulfillment?

Well, to measure something means that it needs quantitative data, right? I need tangible information, stuff that can be written down. Maybe some numbers.

I look at my resume to see what I can gather. Nearly college graduate, very little job experience, but she has a great GPA. I need more. Well, how much money do I make? Not much. How many friends do I have? Many. How many job applications have I put out there in the last six months? More than I can count.

To a certain extent, I have been trained to view my measure of success in correlation to my value. What are my numbers? What’s the equation? What am I worth?

New question: How do I measure myself?

The numbers weren’t working out so let’s head back towards qualitative data— the descriptors. And this is where I find many people take out the classic measuring stick of happiness. Ah, happiness.. A warm, fuzzy feeling. But this is what I learned when I watched Inside Out this week on my day off: Happiness is a feeling.. Along with sadness, anger, disgust, and fear. It’s fleeting. It’s not meant to take a front seat. It’s not meant to be our primary mode. I cannot expect to always be happy, and I don’t. I cannot expect a feeling to drive my life. I cannot use a feeling to measure my value.

So should I put another word in the place of happiness? Perhaps, fulfillment? But this is another word I’ve got some beef with measuring my life around. I am always going to want more. I am always going to wish I was: smarter, neater, prettier, better. There won’t ever be a point where I reach a point and say, “I’m done. That’s it. I’ve made it.” Because the truth is I can’t find that in this world. I won’t be able to say that I’ve made it until I’ve reached the next life, Paradise. And boy, do I have a long road ahead of me to get there. So nix the word fulfillment on measuring my life.

So what’s it going to be? How do I decide what I’m worth?

I reach my house by the time I’ve settled on how to measure myself: gratitude. While I will always find myself desiring more, more from my life, more from myself. I can measure myself by the gratitude I have for the place I find myself in. The truth of my unsuccess is that I have a job. I have a family that still provides for me— not out of obligation, but love. Why do I grit my teeth at where I have found myself? Why can’t I concede to the truth and boast about the beauty in it?

I may not be where I wish to be, but I am currently where I am supposed to be. I may not be doing what I wish to do, but I am currently doing what I am supposed to do.

I am so grateful to have spent this season learning. Learning to love others, myself, and through all of it, the Lord. My gratitude ultimately finds its way back to Him. He who been the guide through this season of learning. He who has known the whole time what I am worth.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

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