What is Success?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dictionary.com defines success as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals. The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. I believe success is measured by two components; one subjective and one objective; one’s world view and one’s place in life. One’s world view plays an important part in determining one’s view of success. One view of success is definitely measured in attainment of wealth, position, etc. Another view of success is determined by how one lives their life and if they live life according to a set of morays that are defined by one’s belief system. One view of success can be material and one can be more altruistic.  Success is also measured differently depending on one’s place in life. I know that my view of it has changed dramatically. I have many friends who are very satisfied with their work as scientists who don’t seek the material  but rather the satisfaction of helping the world. I also have friends that are so focused on the material, they loose sight of things like friends, family and serving others.

I know when I first began my career, I measured success by how much money I made, where I lived, what kind of car I drove, and many other material things. Now that I am older and my life circumstances have changed, I measure success very differently. I am a Christian and I am not ashamed of that and it definitely affects my outlook and worldview. I think God gives us relationships, circumstances, and gifts to manage. Do we lead with integrity? Are we good stewards with what He has given us (Matthew 25:14–18 (NLT): “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.” Are we seeking to live a life of righteousness? God evaluates success by obedience and faithfulness to do what He’s called us to do, not by results.

Do you really want to live a life in pursuit of things? Whether you are religious or not, shouldn’t there be more to life than the material? Life has so much more to offer than that. I believe true fulfillment comes from serving others. Serving others is not only a noble pursuit, it is one that brings great satisfaction. I serve on two boards of youth organizations and I do service work at my church. I get a great amount of fullfillment by doing this. Now, I would be disingenuous if I didn’t admit that I missed my old income, my career, but I know all of that is temporary and being a servant to others is eternal. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe our eternal destination is based on works but I believe what we do in this life lasts longer than we do.

I have been having this discussion with a good friend of mine. He owns his own business and he Is struggling to determine whether or not he is successful or not. Another friend of ours made a very valid point that we are given two commandments; to love God and to love others.  My friend who I have been having this conversation with is soul-searching for meaning and a way to define and measure his success both professionally and personally. He has been through a lot over the last year and a half and based on his many major life changes, it is understandable that he is searching for answers. At some point, I believe everyone goes through this. Circumstances change and redefining one’s purpose is a necessary part of life.

If success is partly measured by how we love others, we, as a society are failing miserably. Now I am not suggesting that no one is doing this well but we have seen so many failings and injustices in society today it makes me question how many people really understand this calling. The political angst, the racism, friends going after friends on social media are just a few examples that show we are not loving each other. This post is not about these topics but I will address them in another post. I just use them as examples to make a point.

When I lost my career due to disability, I struggled for a couple of years searching for a sense of fulfillment and success. I didn’t realize at the time that I needed to redefine my outlook on what success is and adjust my worldview to my current circumstances. For two years, I really struggled personally that my life had no purpose anymore because all that I knew was my professional life and I didn’t know that I needed to seek a new purpose; one that fit into my new life. I can no longer do the things I used to do so I had to find a new normal. The answers were right in front of me but I was too blinded by my old views that I failed to see what I was called to do in my new circumstances. I don’t have all the answers and there are days when I still struggle to find meaning but when I really contemplate the matter, I realize that serving others is what I am called to do and that gives me a sense of fulfillment and success that I never had before.

If you are like me and are having to adjust to a new normal because you are disabled, you are not alone. You have to redefine what success is and search for a new purpose in life. To stay healthy mentally, you really need to make it a priority to find an outlet to serve.

Be well and serve others.

My Wife, My Rock

Twenty-nine years ago in an Anatomy and Physiology class at the University of South Alabama I met the love of my life. Now at the time, I was dating someone and so was she but we became lab partners, study partners and good friends. For a couple of years this is how it was. Then we both found ourselves single so we decided to go out on a date. Our first date was December 24, 1993. We were engaged June 6, 1994 and married November 03, 1994. I tell you this history because I want you to know what an incredible, loving, and faithful person I met nearly thirty years ago. Now since then we have been through a lot; the birth of our two wonderful boys, many moves around the country, economic hardship, economic prosperity, death, and my reason for writing this post, many health issues.

Over the years, between all of my surgeries, hospitalizations, and health issues, she has always been there for me; giving me care, loving me unconditionally, and sometimes putting me in my place (which I most certainly deserved). Countless times she has been by my side when I was going through a crisis; the loss of my dad, the loss of two of my brothers, and sitting beside my hospital bed talking to doctors.

We have always joked with each other that she is actually Wonder Woman. She has always had a career as a professional, a mother, and a wife. She has dedicated her life to doing her part in raising our children, supporting me, and bettering the community. No one has ever impressed me more than my wife. She is caring, giving, staunchly protective, maybe a little stubborn, and humble.

My wife is constantly on the move. She makes many homemade items (jams, breads, etc,) that she sells at one of the local farmer’s markets every Saturday, she is the Scoutmaster of one of the first Scouts BSA girl troops in the state, she is involved at the church, but most importantly, she takes care of me. She does it all and sometimes I find myself taking for granted her generosity. I try not to; I just do. Even when I do, she still shows me grace and love.

Now you might ask what does all of this have to do with living a life with disabilities. Well, it has everything to do with it, as I honestly do not think I would have made it through everything I have gone through without her. She has been my rock during everything I have gone through. I know that many people are going through this alone and I have a lot of respect and compassion for those that are. I am so thankful that my wife is by my side when I have needed her the most. Living with a disability can create very lonely feelings and if you let it, can be very isolating. 

When you have lost your career, your ability to earn what you used to, your health and generally life as you knew it, it is easy to become withdrawn and depressed and you begin to push away the people that are closest to you. If you let it, it is easy to become isolated and bitter. As I have been through this journey getting used to a new normal, my wife has been there every step of the way. She is the one that pulls me out of my isolation and reminds me that even though I might not be able to do what I used to do, I still have a lot to offer the world and reminds me that I still have a purpose in this life. She is the one that helps me push my boundaries, get outside of my comfort zone, and supports me in everything I do. I have learned to be thankful every day for the things I have in this life and what I am most thankful for is my wife. In any relationship, gratitude and love can be two of the most important components.

If you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. If the person you are in a relationship with is not only your partner but also your caregiver, be grateful; show grace but most of all let them love you. They are there for you not because they have to be but because they want to be.