On Success

July 1, 2009

I have this problem.  When I write, I keep talking about how our value as humans isn’t based on what we do, and in my heart I truly believe that.  Unfortunately, my head is still working on the concept, and it doesn’t always go so well.

This summer has been the product of a conflict of mine.  I don’t really believe in money as motivation, so when I consider an occupation, if the job is not something that has some other source of motivation for me, I feel like I am selling my life away.  I do know that things like paying for college or preparing for the future are things I should be thinking about, too, but I’m convicted by Christ’s story about the lilies and the sparrows, and I don’t want to be taken away from God in an effort to secure my future.  That being said, I don’t want to squander what God has given me.

My compromise for the summer was this: I would work part-time, at a place that would give me the chance to share love, and I would invest the rest of the summer with a few writing projects, and giving myself the opportunity to go where God takes me.  I found a job at an ice-cream and coffee shop in our city’s downtown area, which hosts a variety of small businesses.  I felt good about the fit.  Here I’d be encountering people–something I need to force myself to do–and sharing joy and food, along with supporting a small business.  I was excited.

Well, I was a bit slow to get the hang of the ice-cream business, but I pushed myself and I did my best.  It wasn’t quite enough.  At first I didn’t get very many hours, and then I got fired.

When your brain is still learning not to try and measure your worth based on your deeds, getting fired from what seemed like a simple job, is a bit rough.  Now I’m out of a job, and I feel like I’m lazy.

I responded by trying to rack up other achievements.  I assigned myself to eight hours of ‘productive’ time every day–basically working on writing projects.  But my basis for what was ‘productive’ meant things that could lead to me getting money or fame or something.

My mom’s birthday was about this time.  This spring I started drawing birthday cards for friends, and I planned to give my mom one as well.  They take a long time, because I am not very much of an artist, but I am extremely finicky with my work.

Well, birthday cards make people happy, and they let people know that I love them, but they aren’t going to make me money, and they aren’t going to get me famous, so I didn’t count working on my mom’s card as productive.  So I set my mom’s card as a low priority, because I felt like I had to do something to be worth something.

My mom’s card was more than a week late, and, even though she didn’t mind at all, I felt like a jerk.  Here I’d been trying to avoid selling my life to money, but I somehow managed to do that very thing, even though I didn’t have a job.

I think a lot of the things that we think are important, aren’t very important to God.  And I think that the things that are important to God, don’t necessarily seem important to us.

So maybe if I reevaluate my society-based priority list, or do away with it altogether, I might be better able to hear Him whisper the things that are really important in my ear.