What’s Your Standard of Measure?

Our society has it totally wrong. (No surprise there–oh, let me count the ways it has it wrong!)

No, I’m not talking the current political mess (though I easily could, and just might, at some point, dip my toe in those waters).

I’m not talking about the government, or the establishment, or of race and gender equality, or the many topics and ways that society as a group gets it wrong.

I’m talking about us. We, the society of individuals, we have it totally wrong on a fundamental level.

Case in point, I want you to think back to your last class reunion. What thoughts occupied your head prior to attending?

i-am-not-good-enough-L-EseIyyI can tell you what occupied mine.:I need to drop the last of that baby weight. I want to look good. . . which dress should I wear…and then I started cataloging my accomplishments. How much had I accomplished? Would they think me successful, or would they think I was a massive under achiever? Had I done enough, accomplished enough?

My guess is, most of you would have had a similar train of thought. And it shows an inherent flaw in how we approach this wild and wonderful journey we call life.

We are preoccupied by the doing–but what we need to embrace is the becoming.

Not_Good_Enough_by_graphiqualAs I approach the ripe old age of forty, I’ve been taking stock, and I haven’t liked what I’ve tallied. I’ve been left with this disappointment, this sense of dissatisfaction that it isn’t enough–that I haven’t done enough–that I’m not enough.

But I’ve got it all wrong. My standard of measure is off. My worth as a human being is not weighed by the things I’ve done, the mountains I’ve climbed, the awards I’ve won–it’s much more simple than that. My worth is measured by how well I have allowed God to make me into the person he wants me to be.

Just as yours is.

Lynne Twist, in her book The Soul of Money refers to something she calls the scarcity principle which is her term for this “never enough” idea that seems to eat away at most of us these days. She calls it the”great lie.” In reference to this concept she says:

Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack.”

She pegged it. She pegged me. I’ve been buying the lie that society has been selling and I’ve been allowing it to tell me that I’m not enough.

My to do list, my already done list, my list of accomplishments, is not the embodiment of my worth.

So often, we look at where we thought we would be, where we think we should be, and when we’re not there, when life doesn’t look like we thought it would look, we feel like we’ve failed. But we’ve missed the fundamental–God was never concerned with our destination, he was concerned with who become on the journey.

climbingYouth Groups all around the country can be blamed a little bit for this misconception. Every youth group I know used to sing the song “I’m gonna do great things, accomplish great things, climb every mountain with God.”

That sounds great. It gets us jazzed. It imbues us with a great sense of purpose–but it also causes us to misconstrue what this journey we call Christianity is all about.

Christianity is not about doing great things, it’s about becoming who we are meant to be–and who we are meant to be is not made on the mountain tops, but rather in the valleys.

My standard of measure is not what I’ve done, but how much I’ve allowed God to transform me.

This disappointment I feel in myself is not really about the list of things I haven’t done and accomplished. It’s about how I’ve not yet become who I am meant to be.

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted puts it this way:

Sometimes, although I am aware of how far I fall short, it doesn’t even bother me very much. And I am disappointed by my lack of disappointment…the older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem–my failure to be the person God had in mind when He created me.

Yikes. I’ve been worried because my tally of accomplishments is to short and paltry, but what I should have been worried about is that innate lethargy that seems to find all of us as we leave our youth behind. Too often, as life takes on its treadmill quality, I have gotten lost in the details, and have had too little motivation to focus on the becoming–therein lies the real issue.

Ortberg calls it being dis-appointed with God, as in, missing the life that I was appointed by God to live.

My life might never look how I thought it should look when I was twenty. I might never do the great things I thought I would do. But the more important question is, will I become who He wants me to be?

Will you?

That’s all He ever asks of us.

919d35bde32013777cc945aa5b2b78e6Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that includes doing, and sometimes it even includes the mountain tops, but more often than not, the work is done in the anonymous seasons of life, and in the valleys–and it’s important to remember that. These are the seasons that, if we allow Him to work, He will look at us one day and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

And that’s the only standard of measure I need.


8 thoughts on “What’s Your Standard of Measure?

  1. Pingback: A New Definition of Good | musings from the trenches

  2. Brittanie Price
    Professor Graham
    Gen psyc 2301 12-12:50

    Extra Credit

    Daily we compare ourselves to what others will think or see of us. As a Christian, and not a perfect one, I catch myself doing this daily. I make sure I dress as modest as I can be, far more modest than my friends. However when I see my friends wearing clothes that show a little more skin than others I think to myself, “wow, what would her mother think of that outfit?” When in reality it is more than that. My friend is not caring about loving her outfit and loving herself. She is simply thinking about looking hot for the cute guys at the party.

    Today we are stuck trying to impress the opposite sex and some people are guilty of taking it to measures of showing more skin then need be.

    Just my personal example of self standards of measures I guess… love this blog!

  3. Professor Graham,
    This is Bailey Prince in General Psyc, 2301.C03.
    I think this piece relates to psychology in the way that, we all crave the need to be accepted. It is almost and unalienable thing. Society is very non-accepting of bullies and they are very frowned upon. However, so often we allow ourselves to be the bully in our own lives. We constantly tell ourselves everything that is wrong with ourselves instead of focusing on the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that God has a plan fro each of us and we should not be the one to judge.

  4. Your blog intrigues me. I’m being so honest, I absolutely love it! I’m sitting here crying because I understand all of this. I’m going through this at this very moment. I wake up every day thinking about how I’m not doing nearly as good as I should be in class, how I haven’t made time for the gym at all, how I spend too much money; just how I’m doing everything wrong and I haven’t even gotten dressed yet! It’s like a terrible cycle of disappointment, that no matter how great I do, there’s always something I could have done better. This then leads to my thoughts of how I’m not following God’s “rules” per say and leads me even further down a path. This anxiety of being perfect has caused so much stress in myself. It’s interesting because I’ve found that when I try to have an inner locus of control, and control/create my own destiny, I start to spiral and everything becomes harder. I’ve very recently, within the past two weeks or so, started to learn that we can’t control our destiny, only God can, and, as you said, all we can do is make sure that we’re living how He would want us to. We can only make sure we are becoming who He wants us to be. We can’t look at our past mistakes and defeats and use that to bring us down, God put us through it to learn and grow; to show us that it’s okay to fall, but you have to pick yourself back up again and move forward, being even more careful not to make the same mistake again.

    Thank you for posting this, this opened my heart.

    • I’m so glad that it helped! I wish I could tell you that this struggle gets easier, but I think for most of us, it’s a lifelong struggle of learning and relearning. The balance of keeping an internal locus of control while recognizing that we need to let go and let God work at the same kind is very difficult. Keep trying! We grow so much in that struggling!

  5. Hello professor Graham, this is Mackenzie Hudson from General Psychology C04. I have big ears that poke and do not look normal. Till I was thirteen i was made fun of for them and was called dumbo. One day I was walking down the hall when a boy looked at me and stuck his ears out and began to make monkey noises. When I got home that day I was in a puddle of tears. I told my mom about what happened and she was fed up with all of the bullying. My mom later sat me down on the bed and told me that I had the option to get cosmetic surgery done and get my ears pulled back. I took a couple days to think about it and came to the conclusion I was not going to get the procedure done. God made me the way I am for a reason and why would I ever want to change that. After that day I never thought of myself as ugly with my ears but now embrace them. My standard of measure is not on how other people perceive me but on how i perceive myself.

    • I have never once looked at you and thought, “Oh, my goodness! Look at those ears!” Maybe you’ve grown into them! 😉 I think you made the right choice–learning to love ourselves and accepting our imperfections is a big part of our journey to psychological health. Kudos to you for figuring it out so young!!

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