If you’re like me, you want to get ahead in life. You want to succeed. If you do not succeed, you at least want to be recognized. You want to be known. You want to be loved.
So for as long as you can remember, you’ve pursued these things because you’ve found them to be valuable. If you associate yourself with valuable things, then people will find you valuable. If people find you valuable, then you will be recognized, you will be known, you will be loved. When you possess these things, you will live happily ever after (or so you thought.)
You’ve had your hand in the treasure box before. You’ve held valuable things.
a. You do the things that people love, and so you are the thing that people love. It’s a great life.
b. You have a significant other (you’re in a dating relationship, you’re engaged, or perhaps you hit the jackpot and got married.)
c. Your grades in school are/were outstanding.
d. You play a crucial role as an employee of your dream job.
e. You are financially comfortable (even after you buy all the things that cause people to love you more.)
You’ve probably achieved one of these things. Maybe you’ve achieved a combination of these things. If you’re really lovable, you’ve done all of them. All of these things make you happy, because having all of these things make you valuable. (Again, so you thought)
Au contraire mon frère
Thinking on those terms will lead to failure and despair.
If I believe that my worth equals the sum total of my possessions, then what am I to believe when they are taken away?
Here is how the thinking goes:
a. No one seems to be interested in the same things that I’m interested in. Socially, I can’t seem to get my foot in the door. Everyone keeps shutting me out. The more I try, the more I get burned! What’s the point? What’s wrong with me? I’m worthless!
b. I’m the only one in my friend group who doesn’t have a significant other. Everyone else in my circle of friends is either dating, engaged or married, but I keep blowing it. What’s wrong with me? I’m worthless!
c. I’m a failure when it comes to school. I can never get the grades that I want. Look at my peers, they aren’t struggling at all. They make it look like a piece of cake. Some of them are talking about all of their awards. Here I am working my heart out, and I have nothing to show for it. What is wrong with me? I’m worthless!
d. My life is falling apart. I can’t get the dream job. My plan B didn’t even come through. Now what? I’m of no use to society. I have nothing to contribute to anyone. What is wrong with me? I’m worthless!
e. I don’t have the cash. I can’t do the things that I want to do because the lack of money prevents me! I can’t even provide my own basic needs! How am I supposed to pay for food, drink, clothing, or shelter?
Do we strictly find our identity in our possessions? Answer that question by monitoring how you handle loss, failure, and disappointment.
When your dreams are shattered, and you find yourself running about tearfully, trying to salvage whats left of the pieces, you’ll find out what it is you value.
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.'” (Jeremiah 45:5)
“Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecc 2:10-11)
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1)