We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful.
– Mother Theresa
My church is holding a international singles conference this weekend and yours truly has been asked to speak in one of the classes. As such, I had to provide a brief bio about myself. As I pulled it together, I was impressed with how accomplished I sounded in black and white. It made me wonder why I have a vague disatisfaction with what I have done with my life. I mean I’ve won country-wide scholarships, graduated from the top law school…these are things that anyone should be proud to have done.
…and I am sorta.
My problem is that I did not put my heart completely into any of these things. Yes there was work involved but all my efforts were not engaged. I subconsciously compared myself to others and found I could get above average results with below average effort. A blessing you say? Yes, it absolutely is. However, I have made the achievements an excuse to be lazy instead of striving to find the limits to the gifts I have received.
In the areas I do have talents, I believe the laziness is sourced in fear. If Idon’t push myself, then I can protect my rosy coloured visions of how great I *could* be…fear of failure, of being less than perfect has kept me from going forward…
In areas where I don’t have talents, such a mindset developed early on has seen me quit easily when things don’t come easily. I remember being all gung-ho about learning traditional Indian dance but quitting soon after it got difficult. Sports is just not my thing, playing the piano is too hard….however, these are skills developed over time, things which come with time and effort.
I have always said that I would rather have a kid who works very hard to get B’s rather than a child who effortlessly makes A’s. Why? Because developing and having character matters so much more then what you actually accomplish. While I am momentarily awed by exceptional raw talents/ gifts/ accomplishments, what I truly RESPECT is the character (which often is found behind great achievements)…things such as dedication, honesty, perseverance, hard work, passion, kindness, love.
Unfortunately, the superficiality of our world focuses on the accomplishments, constantly reinforcing their false importance. Therefore people cheat, lie, murder…destroy their souls and peace of mind to get ahead, to produce/maintain a certain image…or more insidiously live quiet lives of vague desperation because they are somewhat lulled into complacency by their accomplishments, or have accepted the lie that they are ordinary and/or helpless.
Sadly, I have been guilty of these mistakes. I have lied to make myself look good. I have let worldly accomplishments quiet me when my heart burns for deeper, intangible things. I have looked at obstacles/challenges and given up.
There are so many scriptures that come to mind (e.g. “Man looks at appearances, the Lord looks at the heart” 2nd Samuel 17) Outward goals are good only in as much as they help you develop the inner life and your heart. More important than graduating is studying with dedication. More important than winning is how you play the game. I’m really starting to understand that now. For too long I have cheated myself from the truest and best things of life.
The true accomplishment for me is becoming a woman of integrity, hope, faith and love. This takes a LOT of honesty and a LOT of courage. It is a vision that I can focus on with all my heart.