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 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.
As 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.
Youth 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?
That’s all He ever asks of us.
Don’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.