On a pensive corner of this city, you found your twenty-something self in a mental soliloquy painting what question your quarter life crisis would be. Are you successful? Just before you could answer yourself, familiar voices start to surround you replying on your behalf. They are loud — like an empty wallet shouting at your faith, like deafening noise stealing the deepest silence of your sleep. And you are wrestling against the hands pulling your body into a weighing scale you could not even fit in. “You do not measure up.” And you are lead to stand by a meter stick; they have marked your loss too soon. For not taking the paths they wanted you to go. For failing expectations you should not have lived by. For wasting your potentials in a place they think you shouldn’t be. For not being their definition of “success”.
Why do people try to measure this word in dialogues? Like a liquid being poured in two barometers, they see who’s got more, who’s got less, but have forgotten to answer the questions: What do we wake up for? Is it our jobs? Is it our ambitions? To climb that most coveted career ladder? Then, what do we work for? What do our lungs breathe for? What on earth are you here for? The question never ends.
In this world of materialism, it is the seductive fragrance of wealth, the breath of luxury, the look of honor and positions as if every person falls in a category of labels and status. It’s the sound of the physical possessions of properties and popularity driven by the language of commodity – money.
You see, money is good. But what does that even mean when you can’t find reasons to be a happy? Or when you can’t comprehend the word humility? There are more treasures outside of your treasure box. The indications of success have been over quantified, and its numerical value’s become an analogue of a person’s worth and identity — your salary, your grades, your class ranks, your exam scores. If in this era Jesus lived among us, would you ever consider Him successful? If you ask yourself before your final breath, what would make you say your life has been well lived?
Listen. Your value is beyond quantity. Your worth is not based on your bank account, your exam scores, performance rating or some numbers. Your limited paycheck is not your destiny. Your purpose is defined. You are greater than what the society thinks you are. You have been defined long before others have defined you, long before you have defined yourself. You are a work in progress and you are far from done. Your career isn’t the only thing you were born for. You are neither just your job nor just your title. Your stability is not on your company nor the economy; it is on the One who holds your future, your Story–because success is not just about what you have or how much you have, but Who you have.
There are greater things beyond the standards of this world, and the real price of success can never be sold. No, you will not swim into the sea of mediocrity because excellence is a value and a priority. But do not live to perform or just to conform because life is not bordered by norm. Let your passion transform. Do the things you love and love the things you do.
Some will not understand what you’re doing and it’s okay. Like in that fable, they’ll say, “You’re just laying bricks.” “You’re just building a wall.” But tell your heart, “You are building a great cathedral.” So dream some more. No one can dream for you. Learn some more. No one can learn for you. If you stumble, get up and go back to your Vision. Know that you are a fusion of glorious dust and stars. That no matter how dark the shadows in your valleys are, you will always, always, find your way, and The Way.
And you see a mother nursing her child, the soldier fighting for his country, the heroes saving lives, the father delighting in the laughter of his son, the music of the pouring rain, the souls of the countless dead stars that have travelled a billion light years just to meet your eyes, the sun that will never give up on you, * the Son who will never, ever give up on you. Success is when you listen to your Call. Maybe, it isn’t only the breakthroughs you had wished for or the miracles you had prayed for. Maybe, it isn’t just the prize or the finish line. Perhaps it is not only found at the end of a story. It happens in every chapter or every page. Success isn’t just a future. Success is now. Success is you.
*This was originally written and delivered as a spoken word piece.
**Jesus: Romans 8:37-39