Matthew and I went to Italy on our honeymoon. It was amazing in so many ways. My very favorite works of art were the Unfinished Slaves by Michelangelo in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. If you don’t know about these amazing works, you can read about them here. These statues are stunning in person, and they are powerful and beautiful and famous because they are unfinished. Michelangelo was a genius, artist who thought that leaving these four sculptures in process was important…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about redefining success. I was talking to a woman who works in pediatric hospice the other day and she was saying, “I don’t know how you go to work. I guess you’re like me and have to redefine success. That’s the only way I can keep going back to work.” Um…yes and amen. Though I hadn’t verbalized it before, that is what I have to do in my work.
Placing is never a success in my mind. Never.
I also have friends and family members and clients and colleagues who are hurting and experiencing something different than the ideal, than the goal. It has been hard lately to see light at the end of the tunnel with/for them. It breaks my heart.
I have been heavy lately with the depravity around me. I have wept over children who are being diagnosed and cut open and placed. I have been angry over women who are (whether they are allowing it or not) abused and mistreated. I have struggled over the strain in relationships between adoptive parents and birthparents (Please, friends, we need each other and this child needs both of us.).
Social work gives me an in-depth look into depravity. Depravity sucks. It just does.
How in the midst of all of this can I find any measure of success? How can I get up and go to work tomorrow if I have to look at that again?
I find that the only way to define success is to not define it. When I name success, I create this false idol and align my identity with that. For example, if I name success as having a college degree and then, I don’t, I have named myself a failure. On the other hand, if I do obtain a college degree, I am successful and anyone who doesn’t have a college degree is failing. I’m soooo proud of myself.
You see where I’m going. I hope you are all above this sort of behavior, but I doubt it. With all the depression and suicide and pain in this world, I think we want to define success and make it be “good” because God is good.
Yes, He is, but God is good and He let His son die on a cross for my wretched self. Just saying.
I’m not saying don’t have goals. I’m saying be careful with the end result. What if the good part was the journey? What if success is simply being a part of the process? This is where art, Michelangelo, and my hubby come in.
Art is about process. Period. If you happen to have a marketable product at the end of your process, well, good for you. Art, however, is all about the process for the artist. The piece is done when it’s done. The success of art is the process of making the piece.
We are God’s workmanship. We are His masterpieces. I, admittedly, do not always feel that way, but in light of that, I would argue that success in your life is in the midst of the molding and shaping and scraping away and adding to. If you are in Christ, you are a success to God because you are His right now, even here, as you are in process this side of Heaven.
Think about that! Now depravity is part of it. Now we can rejoice in trials. Now we can cling to the hope found in Jesus while we are bleeding out. Now we can put away the ideal and embrace the reality of right now. Now we don’t have to appear perfect because perfection is found in the process of being perfected.
You are holy and dearly loved. You are stunning and powerful and beautiful because you are unfinished, and guess what? Everyone else on this planet is too. I want to encourage you to redefine success. You are as you should be. You can’t sculpt yourself. Wherever you are, be all there. Redefine success for yourself in light of Who is molding you, in light of Whose masterpiece you are.
Much love, friends! Much love.