If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I feel like I’m behind. I’m 23, have yet to be in a relationship lasting longer than seven months, I don’t have a full time job, and I am living in the spare bedroom of my parents house. To some, you may agree, I am behind. To others, I might be right where you were or are. But as I look at myself, feeling as if I’m failing, feeling as if I’m behind, and working so hard to catch up with everyone else my age, I realize, I’m not behind at all.
You may think I’m contradicting myself since I just told you I feel behind, but feeling behind and being behind are two completely different things. In college, I was always at the front of life. I felt I had a handle on my classes, my work, my friends, etc. I was a leader, a go-getter, on the fast track to a successful career. At the time, I felt life was pretty well figured out. I got the internship I wanted after college and started the independent lifestyle by moving out on my own to a new state with nothing but God, my belongings and a whole lot of hope. Yet fast forward a year and a half and here I am, back with my parents working part time in a job that has nothing to do with my degree.
I often ask myself how this happened. How did I go from being so driven and so set on goals to now feeling like I’ve lost it all. One word I’ve come to find sums it up pretty well. Fear. I wanted the next thing but I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. I was in an internship and wanted a full-time job so I jumped ship at the first full-time job offered to me, knowing the market was competitive and fearing no other jobs would be offered my way. I wanted a relationship so I dove deep and allowed a guy to become my identity, fearing this was the best I could get, yet knowing full well he wasn’t the best guy for me. I wanted acceptance and titles, so I gave every free minute I had to every organization I could. I continually strove for the next best thing, never relishing in the moments I had, always fearful I would let someone down if I simply told them no or did what was best for myself.
This realization was partly why I wrote last weeks blog which you can find here. But I also believe it’s why I’m floundering so hard right now trying to figure my life out. The reality of it is, I loved the internship I was doing. It was in my career field, in the exact department I wanted to work in. I knew the consequences of leaving included not being able to use those people as references, yet; I let the fear of failure and the fear of the future get the best of me.
Now, I wake up every day and go to a job that although has its perks, is not my full-time career goal. As much as I would like to go back to what I love doing, there’s a part of me that stays where I’m at because I’m fearful of the failure again. The failure of a broken heart. The failure of a wrong career choice. The failure of letting people down. But as I think of these failures I’m reminded of one of my favorite Francis Chan quotes:
The reality of it is, what matters in this life, what really truly matters, is not at what age I get married, or what career I have, but what impact I make for Christ in the lives of those around me. Micah 6:8 states, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
If I never get married, work a mundane job or never reach true financial wealth, but live every day acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God then I will NEVER be behind. By the world’s standards, maybe I will be, but the world’s standards stopped defining me the second I became a Child of God.
As always, this is easier said than done. It’s the reason I have to write it down and remind myself, and it’s the reason the Bible has many repeated phrases throughout. But the more we remind ourselves, the more we start to apply it and the more we start to believe it.
In conclusion, let me ask you a question — Who’s standards are you living by? Are you measuring yourself up to other people and their successes in life, or are you engaging with God’s word and fulfilling what it’s asking you to do? At the end of the day, there is no correct measure of success but rather individual stories taking unique routes to wherever God has designed them to be.
Stop judging yourself. Stop comparing yourself. And start living the life God has uniquely designated for you.