Success and Humility
I am successful.
Did that make you uncomfortable seeing that I wrote that? It feels puffed up and arrogant when people acknowledge truths like that one. I admit - It felt prideful for me too.
But I'm working against diminishing realities for the sake of seeming less offensive or full of myself.
I think it should be okay to acknowledge God's grace in our lives. Because the truth is that He alone has allowed me to be met with success.
One of the things I want to really be mindful of when it comes to seeing myself as a success, is to identify and be grateful for the providences God has laid out for me. The purpose of this post is to reflect on the life experiences that have allowed me to be where I am. The list is not exhaustive.
I was raised by two married parents. I don't think that should be taken lightly. I had stability. I didn't go back and forth. I didn't live in two separate houses depending on the day or week. I had consistency, both in expectations and in consequences. There was no manipulating of mom or lying to dad because they were both very involved in my life. And they were always on the same team. I was nurtured by my mom and learned healthy fear from my dad. With that said, it's also worth noting that I had no shortage of men in my life. My grandparents were around. In fact, I spent the majority of my elementary years with my Pap before and after school. Being raised by two happily married parents helped to set me up for success.
School was important and good grades were non-negotiable. When I made the honor roll, my parents took me out for pizza. Good grades were rewarded. Bad grades weren't punished, but they were definitely not taken lightly. It was never a question of "if" I would attend college. It was just a matter of what school I would choose. Of course, this helped to set me up for success because I was able to get a degree, which puts me ahead of the large percentage of people in poverty who don't have this opportunity.
I grew up going to church. Outside of the obvious, which is that a relationship with God is everything, it's worth mentioning that attending church instilled good character traits. There's something that happens when you go to church regularly and stand up while reading God's word. You learn respect. You learn reverence. In youth church, we talked about integrity, honesty, and academic success. Though I did not become a Christian until grad school, my personality was surely influenced by these early markers.
My parents worked hard. When I was a kid, my mom was making $80,000 a year. That was over 25 years ago. That same annual salary today is probably over $100k. She didn't just get lucky. She worked hard to secure that position. My dad was an entrepreneur. Because my mom made a great salary, he was able to pursue his dream, while depending on my mom to carry us in the meantime. I watched my dad quit his job (in a very honoring way - they threw him a party) and build a company from the ground up. I watched him go from being the sole employee to hiring others one by one. I watched as his company expanded and our quality of life improved. I don't ever remember a day when my dad didn't work. My parents learned from their parents who learned from their parents - hard work is honorable.
As I said earlier, this list is not exhaustive. I could continue writing about the fact that my husband has a secure job. He doesn't make a ton of money, but it's enough to keep us afloat while I pursue my passions. Entrepreneurship isn't a steady paycheck. Some months, things go well. Other months, there's no money. I could also write about how my church community is riddled with successful people with lots of wisdom and great advice to pull from. I could talk about how God's plan for me to join Teach for America has been a huge factor in the amazing people I've met and the opportunities I've been given.
I have been given much. And I hope to truly understand that much will be required of me because of it. I am not successful because I'm amazing. I'm successful because God is sovereign over my life and He's given me a head start.
I am also aware that everything can be ripped from out of my hands at any time. I don't want to take what I have for granted or think that I have some special personality or special gifting that is the sole reason I am flourishing.
God alone has allowed me to flourish. It would be a shame not to recognize and give thanks for the ways He has set my life up. Because everyone is not so lucky.