My entire life, and especially during my childhood, I was told that I could do and be whatever I want, if I set my mind to it. No task, goal, job, or whatever I could think up was out of my reach. I believed this with a passion, thinking that “if I set my mind to it” was a magical key to success; a switch I could turn on and off on a whim if I really wanted something. Sometimes it completely blew up in my face (see: Academics, College) and sometimes it was wildly successful (working at Trek, marrying Abby). It’s funny though…after getting married I’ve tried for so many things that just haven’t worked at all, whether it be jobs or papers for classes or even trying to lose weight, that I’m very tempted to doubt what my parents said–I’m not special, I can’t do what I set my mind to, and there are certainly things out of my reach. As I read rejection letters from menial tasks at grocery stores, as I’m told by churches “I’m not what they’re looking for, but good luck!” and as I look down at the spare tire still stuck around my middle its incredibly alluring to give in and admit what everyone else appears to have hidden from me: that I’m normal and prone to failure.
And that, my dear friends, would be a load of crap.
The problem in this situation isn’t “me” as much as it is how I’ve handled it. Success isn’t something you turn on and off…it isn’t a golden ticket, a magic genie, a silver bullet, a [insert movie reference here], its a way of life. In college, I waited until my last two semesters to try working hard and studying, and I had mild success but had already dug myself into a hole that was admittedly too deep to climb out of that quickly. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes hard work–not eating a salad every four days and assuming that’ll take care of it. And as for the churches and schools trying to find a job, well…I do this to God all the time.
We use faith the same way that I use my supposed “specialness,” as a switch we turn on in times of great distress and hardship and we expect it to carry us through the storm. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and then we get mad at God for His “failure.” Shouldn’t faith be a way of life? Shouldn’t it cover everything we do, drowning out every other voice that could possibly steer us astray? I mean, if I had used all the gifts that God has given me in college, I would have been wildly successful. But I didn’t, and I paid for it, even if I think this was His plan all along. And if we truly, truly had all-encompassing faith, shouldn’t we look at things like perceived rejection by the world as something other than rejection? What if God doesn’t want me at [SPOILER ALERT] UT Houston Medical School or Grace Crossing or Sugar Grove or Creekside or Dillon Community Church or West Houston or any of the other seemingly dozens of churches that haven’t even given me the time of day? Is that actually failure or is it just adhering to His glorious and perfect plan? I see it as a lack of success because its what I wanted, what I strived for. When David was sitting in a cave as an outlaw preparing to potentially be apprehended and executed, and yet he still had faith that God’s promise was good enough for him, I don’t think failure ever entered his mind. He knew, beyond all doubt, that God is good and faithful and it would work out the way God needed it to.
The truth is, I’m incredibly special. I’m gifted, I’m athletic, I’m hilarious, and I’ve got an entire storehouse of blessings from God just waiting to be unleashed upon some unsuspecting church or school that God already has picked out for me. I will be successful, and there will be God’s glory to be praised and thanked for all of it. It may be in December, it may be next year, it may be ten years from now, but I will glorify His name through my job.
So yes, my parents were right. I’m special, and capable of great things. But its only because they believe in me, because my friends believe in me, and because my God believes in me. I am successful in the eyes of God, and anything outside of Him is going to be a failure no matter the dollar signs or accolades. I’m ready for a life of faith, and therefore a life of success.
After all, my Holy Father tells me I can be anything He wants me to be.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13