Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Measuring Success

How does one measure success in life?

This is a question I have asked and do ask myself every day, multiple times a day. Alas! I am one of those who questions their worth constantly.

My Alas! face
I look at blogs and the number of followers each has. Is that success? I look at posts my friends make on Facebook and the number of friendly, comforting, commiserating comments they receive. Is the love others feel for them success? I see my women friends at church with their packs of children and wonder if fertility is a measure of success. And I won't even talk about their weight (or lack of it). How does one measure success? How do I measure it? In love? Admiration? Attention?

After we are baptized into the church, we receive a blessing of confirmation. In this blessing we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It promises us that if we live worthily we are entitled to the constant companionship of the Spirit. I remember the day I was confirmed like it was yesterday. I was SO EXCITED to be baptized and confirmed. I knew, even at only eight years old, that something special and unique and Bigger Than Me was happening. As the priesthood holders laid their hands on my head and gave me that sacred blessing, I felt Something incredible. It wooshed down from my head all the way through me. The veil was thinner between Heaven and me at that moment because I knew - I KNEW - that I was connected to my Heavenly Father.

Me, as an 8-year old. I didn't know it was picture day
Imagine this look on my face as an 8-year old. Not hard, is it?!

That memory has never left me and I often wish to feel that physical presence again. But the Spirit doesn't work that way. It is the Still Small Voice, the Comforter, the burning in the bosom or the feeling of peace in your heart. I almost imagine the Spirit as a quiet, unobtrusive helper who stays out of my direct line of sight, making things work as well as I let them, but is easily forgotten since I can't see them. If I stop for a moment in life and look over my mental shoulder, I'm aware again of the Spirit, guiding me and directing me. It feels a little different now than it did when I was eight.

First day of 2nd Grade
Kenneth has been taking the bus to school for the first time. He's not worried about it at all, but I have been making up for the both of us. The bus is supposed to drop him off after school at 2:55pm. Yesterday, it wasn't there at 2:55pm. It wasn't there 10 minutes later, 15 minutes later. My gut started wrenching and I was terrified that Something Had Happened. A hundred different scenarios involving a lost 7-year old worried at me. And then, for some reason, I looked over my mental shoulder and saw that, sitting quietly behind that fear, was peace. 

Yup. Right behind me.

My mind argued with me. How can you feel peace in this situation, it asked? The reality is that KENNETH IS NOT HERE AND PROBABLY SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAS HAPPENED. IT'S NOW 20 MINUTES LATE. THAT PEACE IS A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION.

Yikes! Terrible things are happening!
 But I did feel the peace. And I recognized the feeling because I'd had it before. And those situations always worked out. The bus finally arrived (30 minutes late) and all was well.
And they lived happily ever after. At least for that day.

It nearly always is. But the fear persists because I ... well, because I let it.

After the incident, I kept thinking about the spirit of peace I'd had. I may forget the Spirit, but apparently it doesn't forget about me. Nor does it give up on me. Then I realized I hadn't given up on it.

Joseph B. Wirthlin used this quote in a General Conference address:

Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it; so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it...” (author unknown, Second Encyclopedia, ed. Jacob M. Brand, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1957, p. 152).

 Is success a final, permanent end result? As I sit here, I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea that maybe, just maybe, success isn't a destination, but a state of just getting back up and trying again anyway (even if you don't feel like doing it or feel that you are ever going to get good at it).

For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12)

And I hope I will be found successful.


1 comment:

  1. You are a great Mom. And a really good friend. Thank you! And I found a good home for Sweetie! Yaaaaay! Her new family noticed my folded book art, and wanted to know all about it!!