March 22, 2012

How to Know You've Arrived

Over coffee, I asked my friend Tahni how she would know when she had "made it". In my mind, she has already made it. She is a wildly talented wedding photographer, soon to be featured in the wedding magazine to end all wedding magazines, The Knot.

I asked because I am intrigued by art, by creativity, and by the process in which it is made or displayed. How does an artist know she has arrived when her work is measured in a perspective, a dab of color, a flash of light, a style, or a photograph? I imagine that as soon as she sees her work published, the finish line of "having arrived" will move a little further away. Where is the end? What is success?
My finish line has moved a little too over the past few weeks. In January of next year, I will see my first book published, a book meant to help and encourage church planting wives. I am beyond thrilled, but, here, in this new territory, I have also had moments of heart-racing panic. There are new fears to face (people will actually be reading this) and new worries to cast off (people might not actually read it), but, mostly, I am questioning success. What is success? Is there really ever a point where I will feel that I have arrived?

I could worry endlessly about every dash and dot in my manuscript or whether I have anything worth saying, but would an errorless manuscript or a book full of wise, quotable sayings make me a success?

What about as a mother or a wife? These things matter more to me than anything I have written or will write. How do I measure success in those roles?

It's all very confusing when the finish line keeps moving, when the world elevates celebrity and celebrates the grandiose, and most of us are simply living quiet lives in our little corners of the world. 

I am asking God about these things because I want to know His definition of success. What constitutes "arriving" in His eyes?

I don't think it has much to do with circumstances, whether our reach is large or small. I don't think it has much to do with reaching a certain point or achieving a goal. I don't think it has much to do with what we do or don't have, although we very much focus on these things.

As I have asked about these things, He has answered me by implanting a sweet whisper of a prayer in my heart:

Lord, make me brave. 
Help me know that success is trusting you,
that faith is the everyday finish line.
Each step forward of faith is one more toward You
and hearing You whisper,
"You have finally arrived."