/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » how do you define ‘success’?

This post began a few days ago when I received a spam message through classmates.com. I registered at classmates to make sure I got any notification if there was a class reunion for my high school graduation class (and so far, there’s been nothing). Anyhow, I got this message from a “Timothy Martin” and because it sounded like a real message and not some “I’ve got cheap viagra” message, I read it. Turns out, there was no Timothy Martin in my HS graduating class, college graduating class, or anywhere else in my past. So I deleted the message. But in order to discern all of this, I had to pull out the old yearbooks and take a gander through them.

Which made me realize I haven’t had contact with the people I hung around in high school–at all. And in considering that there *should* be a reunion of the class in 2008, it’s a bit odd. But in reflecting on all of that, it made me think about what we valued in those younger years and how we defined success.

The things that we held in high esteem really weren’t all that important. And we didn’t treat each other in a way that showed our understanding of what *is* important–that people are more important than *things*. We valued external appearances and bright, shiny baubles more than relationships. We defined success by achieving good grades and outward signs of prosperity–the ability to buy bright, shiny baubles.

I wonder how many of us have been ‘successful’ based on that warped understanding of “success”?

Me? I think I’m successful–not because I have a Master’s Degree or a successful online business. I’m successful because I’m in a happy marriage (for nearly 12 years now), and we have a delightful (well, mostly!) 5 year old son and we’re teaching him what is truly important in life. My relationship with God is another thing that I consider part of my ‘success’, and my work with others in doing the things that God has asked us to do. The ability to buy bright, shiny baubles isn’t important, neither is the fact that our one car is 8 years old. We have a cozy home and although it’s still being set-up and painted, it’s the perfect house for our family. It’s not the largest house in the area, and it’s not the newest house we could have purchased. But it’s the best house for our family at this juncture of time and space. It’s utilitarian–something we didn’t value when we were in high school. We don’t serve our house, it serves us. We work to afford the house, but we realize that what goes on inside the house is far more important than the external appearance of the house.

More than anything, I’m really glad I’ve come to this place in life. I’m glad the shallowness of high school is behind me and I understand what’s truly important in life and what real success looks like. It’s not being the richest, thinnest, or have the trappings of worldly success. For me, it’s being a loving wife and mom and Disciple of the One Who created me.

And I’ll put that definition of success up against a different one any day of the week..

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  • http://www.goldengryphondesigns.com/index.html Kristine Keeney

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about this. My 20th reunion was held last summer (a year late!) and I wasn’t able to go but was able to do the type of soul searching you mention.
    Am I content with my life? Am I happy? Am I doing what I want to be doing and not what I *have* to be doing?
    For years I thought success meant money and degrees and papers to hang on the wall. Then I grew-up a bit and learned that love can come in all shapes and sizes, that I don’t need a lot of money to be happy, and that my husband really meant it when he said “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”.
    I’m still learning about happiness and life. And I’m still working on my personal successes.
    You are right. The sparkley stuff, while fun, doesn’t keep you warm at night or fix the sink. The papers on the wall don’t mean much when the dogs finally curl up with the cat to sleep. And nothing can match that contentment of standing on *your* porch (even if the house is just a mobile) and watching the sunrise while listening to the owls, roosters, and songbirds.
    Good luck!