Encouragement for Failures (part 4 and last!)   4 comments

Mardi self portrait


Understanding and accepting that success has no actual value in itself, causes one to abandon the pursuit of success in achieving goals and instead to look for what other purpose God might intend for the  activities and choices with which we fill our life. And I can come up with just one answer: Love.  The only thing God wants us to spend our time, our effort, our knowledge on is love. Love is not concerned with results.  If we are disappointed that our love is not returned then it is merely affection or goodwill, not love.  Affection and goodwill are admirable pastimes.  But love is not interested in results.  Love is about abandonment of all interest in personal gain of any sort and has become enchanted with only one thought, the pleasure of the beloved

We cannot think that our own actions, efforts or knowledge actually achieve particular results.  In any given instance, with any given project, goal or ambition, the results are not a product of our actions, efforts or knowledge.  Results are given by God as a gift.  Success in anything we attempt to do is not ours to achieve.  It is not a result of anything we can do or know.  It is not connected in any way to our abilities.  It is a gift just as the rain is a gift and the sun is a gift and the families into which we are born (and to which we give birth) are a gift.

So if our efforts are not about getting results what are they about?  Well they are gifts too, gifts to amuse us, to keep us busy, to exercise our minds.  And if our purpose is not to achieve the goals we set then what is our purpose? Perhaps it is just to love.  Perhaps the question we need to ask at each step is not “which choice will best work to help me reach this goal?” but rather “which choice is, in this moment, the one that expresses love, participates in love, opens the possibility of love flowing?”  We become detached from trying to imagine and control the future results of our actions (which we cannot do anyway) and become invested instead in the present moment where God eternally exists in infinite love.

You notice that my theory has shifted from dealing with whole lives to consideration of individual events.  It is concerned with success as the results of any goal we set and not merely as a general evaluation of life as a whole.  Of course I still feel that each individual life is given a success ratio that is designed to teach each person unique and special lessons.  But beyond that we can each look at every event in our life for which we are trying to manipulate a successful outcome and realize that success is not going to be a result of our actions and knowledge but will be a gift from God.  It changes our perspective on what we do, how we do it and why we do it.

These assumptions have even permeated our religion and theology causing us to think and speak of our relationship with God in terms of cause and effect.  We have developed the Protestant work ethic as if it were actually God’s plan for the world.  We explain scripture as if it were a handbook of instructions for achieving the goal of union with God.

The problem is that both of these premises (the use of cause and effect to interpret life, and the belief that results are achieved through effort and knowledge) are based on incompletely understood material-based models and are incorrect and inadequate to the observed patterns of life.  In fact the truth is that we cannot control even the smallest elements of our life.  In life, as opposed to the material world, effects do not proceed from knowable causes.  The correlation is only apparent and not actual.  We keep trying to figure out how to make it work because we are terrified of the alternative option – recognizing and admitting that we are not in control of anything, nor can we ever get in control of anything.  We are, in fact, totally, completely, helpless and dependent entirely on the grace, mercy and benevolence of God.  Even people who purportedly love and trust God find this realization frightening. And people who don’t believe in God would be left with no hope at all.

Success in anything we attempt to do is not ours to achieve.  It is not a result of anything we can do or know.  It is not connected in any way to our abilities.  It is a gift just as the rain is a gift and the sun is a gift and the families into which we are born (and to which we give birth) is a gift.  We are responsible for doing our best with what we are given.  But the results are not connected to what we can or cannot do.  The results are given by God for his own inscrutable purposes.  We can neither know nor understand his ways of granting his gifts.  We cannot change or affect his choices and decisions.  We can only accept everything that comes to us – as a gift.

And while our lives are all wrapped up in trying to achieve a success we will never attain, God is not in the least concerned or interested in success.  For him success and non-success are equally unimportant.  The only true purpose in life is love, not success.  What he wants from us is our love.  And he knows that all we really want is love in return.  And for that we do not need to achieve anything.

Mardi: horse & baby


Posted July 19, 2011 by janathangrace in Guests

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4 responses to “Encouragement for Failures (part 4 and last!)

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  1. Nice art work Mardi! But honestly, will take time for an impatient person like me to understand all of what’s written…


  2. thoughts are seeds that are planted in the mind and grow in each garden in a different way, giving a different fragrance and a different array of colors and shapes to each one’s garden of thoughts. One day a new thought comes up and you don’t know where it came from, but by then it is your thought

  3. A major contribution to my unsuccessfulness has been lack of, or bad choices, timing, lack of money, and primarily not knowing for certain if it is God’s will or my own aside from the sinful decisions made that were not his will. Mostly because of God and my concious decision to follow him, my choices have been about making sacrifices for the right reasons over making an investment in my career, attaining money, or both because of where I found my life to be one day. When I was in my 20′s, extremely fit, the world was my oyster, but I then had to choose the most difficult, but correct decision in my life and this was all for the sake of love which cost me everything I am and have. Becoming extremely poor as as result showed me who I am, my friends, and family truly are. They have been very hard lessons to learn. Without money things were compounded and life became extremely difficult; choices were limited, opportunities vanished, or didn’t exist therefore less success and more difficulty to survive presented itself. Praying and knowing as God said that he will take care of ALL our needs found comfort in this not knowing how to make it in this world. Just because one is educated and very capable doesn’t mean they meet success just as those with money, education, capability do. My success has been held in life and times and making the most of what I have and not thinking of what I don’t have. Participating in the church giving of my time, services was beneficial too. Hopefully, I have blessed someone somewhere.

    These are the worldly attributes that Christians have to learn to live amongst, within, and through. Money is the biggest of all of the obstacles to one having success or not in life and affects every aspect of one’s life. It’s much more difficult to survive in this world without money. Yes, one can live without money, but not very well and without any money will end up being homeless until some fine Christian takes them in. One has to have money to make money too, or monetary success. Those with money attract others who have money (as well as attracting those who have no money and also for the wrong reasons). Being poor or without money leaves one in a more vulnerable position in life too and limits options of success because everything costs money. Otherwise, it’s much more difficult to acheive dreams and have successes. Money affects what one eats and how much too, they wear, where they live, many times who they associate with how those will associate with them, their healthcare, etc. Poor people are forced to make decisions they wouldn’t make otherwise, and are taken advantage of many times just as a weaker, smaller animal in a pursued herd of Antelopes is eaten by a lioness. One with money has the ability to make more choices, have more opportunities, higher eschelon of friends, and though God is ultimately in control, people who are poor are subjected to those with money and are even taken advantage of by the rich. A rich man needs cheap laborers…and who will do these jobs? They say, sorry this is all we can pay, but know good and well this job pays more with other like jobs. Getting that job that pays more is challenged with other competitors or everyone else who wants more money and it’s not always the best one that gets the job…it’s whoever the rich man decides will have it. Having money or lack thereof does destroy some relationships.

    Living through all the success of loving and other non-successes all make me want to get to heaven that much quicker, but who knows what God has in store for me now. Today I pray for His will not mine be done although His will shall be done whether I am a part of it or not so I pray that I am always with him. Not gaining the world I have not sacrificed my soul. I only want His love throughout life. Trusting that God is who He says He is and determining what his purposes are for me now are successful focuses no matter how much money I ever have.

    • Yes, I have not taken the path in life that leads to financial security, so I know what you mean. Faith is often hard to each of us in unique ways, and some folks credit themselves with strong faith simply because it has little been tested. May God grant you eyes to see his love for you.

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