On Success

How do I measure success? This question has plagued me for the last few years. At 32, I am not where I expected to be in life. I had a 5 year plan, a 10 year plan, goals and expectations. I thought I’d go on to a Masters, eventually a PHD. I thought I’d write books, that I would be recognized. As it is, I am 10 years past receiving my degree and just as long from being in a classroom. I haven’t worked in my field since the birth of my daughter 8 years ago, and the only time my degree comes close to being used is on a volunteer basis or as a sounding board for friends who moved on and were able to do what I coudn’t.


Over the years I have learned how to heal, I have battled with depression and learned how to manage it. I’ve managed an illness that kept me hardly functioning for the better part of a year. I have learned how to be a wife, how to be a mother. I have learned skills and ways of expressing myself. I’ve even managed to occasionally get paid for things I enjoy doing. Still, my husband and I are in the lowest tax bracket, and it’s hard to enjoy the time spent practicing my craft when I could be working, earing, helping to support our family. As much as can go on about the benefits of being a full time parent all of the things I am able to contribute – to my husband, our kids, our home and our friends – I struggle against the constant insecurity that it isn’t enough.


I’ve come to realize this insecurity comes from my opening question – how do I measure success? If it’s through degrees or professional accomplishments, I am doomed to always fail. If it’s in the form of finances then I feel some mix of guilt and hatred for myself that manifests as misdirected resentment for my husband for not bringing home enough. I have not travelled the globe, I have not made the world a better place, I have not been in the spotlight and applauded. Success has not been handed to me from an outside source, so how will I know when I have accomplished it?


I had to learn to let go of the expectations I had put on myself. I had to accept that I am not a woman who will have it all – a career and a family and a spotless home and a full social life. I will never be that person – and I no longer hold resentment for women who are able to have that life. For the first time in a long time I am content with my life – as it is. More than content, I feel proud of the things I have accomplished, proud of my choices, proud of the life I have created and the part I play in the lives of those around me. I measure success in the challenges I overcome, in the things that I learn, in the ways that I give, in the peace that I feel.


While I’m waiting

I am not a patient person. I rarely see the value in the journey, in the process, in the wait. Once I know something is coming, I want it. Now. The worst thing a person can do to me is send a message like “I have something I really want to talk to you about, can we get together next week?” – all I want to do is scream “No, we can get together now!”

There are things in life I am waiting for. There are plans my husband and I have that must be put on hold. It’s not idle time – it’s time of preparation and growth and I know this. I know that the timing isn’t right yet, I know there is a need to wait and there is progress in the waiting, but it is still hard.

My impatience pulls at me, begging me to start something new – a new project, a new goal, a new version of myself that I can be to fill the space until it gets to now. It’s tempting. It’s tempting to want to write or work or study – all things that would give me a different path, things that look good on the surface but don’t really get me any closer to the thing I am waiting for.

So I’m learning to enjoy the waiting. Learning to take the quiet and the moments and the days when I am not pressured and rushing as gifts. Somehow I had gotten in my mind that the pressure was a sign of success – it meant I was doing, meant that there was tangible evidence of my work, of my worth. Waiting is teaching me to let go of that. To rest, to reflect, to savour a cup of coffee sitting in the sun or an afternoon giggling with my children. Waiting is teaching me to be instead of always feeling a need to do.

It’s still hard, still a struggle, but today is a day I think I did it right, and I wanted to remember that, to cherish it and tuck it away for the next day when waiting is hard.

Fighting Grace

I was struck last night by a thought. I’m not completely sure where it came from, but it was there, clear as day.

One of the most common and constant struggles for those who believe is the concept of grace.

How bizarre is that? We who are saved and called sons and daughters of the Most High God struggle with the truth of our identity, with the reality of our salvation. I think if most of us were in the garden, the serpent wouldn’t ask “did God really say” but instead “are you really saved?”

There are different theologies of salvation, of course, each one with it’s own focus, with it’s own slant, giving us as individuals differing degrees of responsibility and agency when it comes to our salvation. I’m not really talking about theology here though, I’m talking about the day to day living out that salvation – and how often we question this overwhelming grace that covers us.

Human nature looks for boundaries and limits and wants to know where the lines are. Human doubt then analyses and wonders if we’ve crossed those lines, and how many times, and how we’ve made up for it or grown or turned back or moved on. All with lip service to the God of all who is the beginning and the end, who knows all things and has saved us by his great love through sending his son.

Grace. Even for us.

Slowing down.

I’ve had sick kids the last few days. Sick kids means kids at home, means time spent getting water and fixing blankets and cuddling up on the couch. It’s wonderful, but at the back of my mind I’m still aware of the chores and the to do lists and the things I had planned to get done that just don’t seem to happen when there are kids in the house.

I admit I don’t always make the best nurse in these times. I tend to get anxious about what isn’t happening. I feel frustrated and put upon and am constantly going through the lists in my head and trying to figure out how to shuffle things around so it will all get done.

I tried a different approach this time. I cleared my schedule. I sat on the couch with my daughter’s head in my lap. I nurtured her. I played games with my son and we laughed together. I took a breath, I let go of the lists and I experienced life as it was.

I’ve been reading more about slowing down. From blogs by busy moms to a book about worship to the story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet to Jesus himself taking time away from the crowds. Changing my mind from seeing “quiet time” as another thing to add to my list to realizing it means being in the moment, being present where I am and finding the quiet there, the lessons, the whispers of the Spirit, the refreshing of my soul.


I’m tying to put together words to make sense of all of the things going on in my head. Generally this is an easy process for me, but today, it’s not. There’s too many ways of looking at it and I’m not sure just where this is going, so forgive me if it comes out a bit disjointed.

For most of my life I have believed things about myself that were not true. Those beliefs affected my actions and my relationships and the way I saw the world around me. Even with healing and therapy and good, strong, healthy connections to people I still struggled with this internal world. At my best I felt slightly less than that others thought I was. At my worst I felt….awful.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

No matter how many times I read that verse, I couldn’t believe it was true for me, because I kept proving to myself that it wasn’t. That I was still broken and marked and cursed and awful. I hoped that some day I could do better, or at the very least that the grace of God would stretch that far.

What can wash away my sin
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

When we think of washing, of being cleansed, there’s this sense of taking away what is bad and wrong, removing the corruption, But people don’t work like that. There’s consequences and effects and bits of us that change. As good as it is to think about instant cleansing and everything going back to perfection, that’s not how people work. We remember, we build habits and beliefs and hold on to things, even when we know better.

That’s why I like the imagery of the blood of Christ. It covers our sin. It doesn’t matter about the lingering marks because they are covered, filled in, owned and taken care of. There is no condemnation for me from God because God sees only the blood of Christ. There is no condemnation because I am filled in and made whole, and those bits of me that were wrong – the habits and thoughts and actions all influenced by years of holding onto lies – those are being changed. I am being made new, day by day, growing and getting better. Even in the process, even when I struggle and fall back on old habits, I am still covered and under the blood of Christ.

As the world turns

It’s a funny thing to think about live moving around me. A few years ago I was sick. Not quite bedridden for months. My husband was amazing and stepped in, taking responsibility for meals and groceries and laundry and bedtime routines for the kids. My biggest responsibility was to keep the kids fed and safe while he was at school every day, and to keep an eye on our finances to make sure everything got covered. I struggled a lot during that time realizing that he could do it without me – a realization that came back in a bad way a couple years ago. I was struggling with crippling depression and for a time I thought my family would do better without me. I trusted he could take care of them, of himself, of everything without the extra burden of dealing with my sadness and lethargy and needyness.

It’s hard to find your place in the world when confronted with the fact that it functions fine without you.

On the other extreme, I tend to have an overblown sense of responsibility. Generally I blame it on my mother, but really I know that’s a cop out. When I’m in charge of something to any degree, I get insecure. I want people to like me, and so if I am in any way able to make someone’s experience better and I don’t, then it’s on me and my fault. This leads to a lot of pressure I place on myself and a lot of guilt. It also makes it nearly impossible to take constructive criticism in the way it’s intended.

Yesterday my husband reminded me the extreme reaction I have is in part because of a position I was in years ago. One of those things I thought I’d moved past but apparently is still lingering in the background. He told me this after I called him home from work because I was crying and couldn’t stop and I knew I was over-reacting but couldn’t make it all make sense. I forget sometimes that there’s other things to consider – experiences and thoughts and habits and wounds and countless other bits and pieces that make me who I am.

So what’s to do then? Being involved and part of things is important. I need to be connected to stay healthy, to exercise my gifts and to serve the people around me. Part of things, but not too big a part, or the weight of it crushes me and I somehow believe it all comes down to me, that i am the most crucial element.

How quickly my pride moves from one extreme to the other.

I’m taking some time now to get some perspective. To step back and observe and see what happens. A reminder that the world still turns, and a chance to see where there’s a spot for me to fit into it. The right spot where I’ll fit and feel comfortable and not be crushed by my own expectations.

First response

I have this…trait. A habit? Not sure what category it falls into (although I’m sure “character flaw” would probably be on the list). I respond to things.

Almost any time an opportunity is given for me to react or voice my opinion, I’m there ready to give it. I like to think it’s because I was raised in a home where discussion and sharing one’s opinion was encouraged. I can even say it’s because I’ve got a wide range of topics that interest me and that I enjoy dialogue.

Really though, sometimes, it’s just because I want to have my say.

I’ve been feeling this pull lately toward silence and stillness and reflection. To not being the first voice, to giving pause before I speak or react or share. It’s not my natural tendency (not that my natural tendency always works in my favour).

Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back

Sometimes I think I’m so wise. All this knowledge and understanding and reading and thinking that I’ve done gives me this sense of entitlement when it comes to sharing my thoughts and ideas and opinions. I want to change that. I want to listen. I want to reflect and understand. I want to feel comfortable in quiet contemplation. I want to stop this constant need to have my thoughts validated.

So writing here may seem like a bit of a contradiction.

I am going to try to learn the difference between sharing for growth and speaking in order to hear my own voice. I have a feeling I won’t always get it right, but that is my goal. I want to spend more time reading and reflecting and taking in the words and thoughts and experiences of those around me. This is a place for me to sort through those things and wrestle with my own thoughts, but also a place to show restraint – not filling the page with every word that runs through my head.