What Is God’s Version of Success?
[Editors Note: This is a guest story by Katie Pezzutto. This is one devotional I read and thought, “this is going to make a difference for a lot of people.” In my humble opinion, young adults are way too hard on themselves and push themselves harder than ever. Thank you Katie for your story!]
One year ago, I was on a fast track to finishing my double degree at the University of Lethbridge. With grades as high as my BC relatives, my hope for admission to the Schulich School of Law was bright. A well-known modelling and acting agency in Calgary had signed me on earlier that year. That summer, I finished writing my first YA novel and had found an agent in Toronto who was interested in representing me to a publisher.
My intricately laid plans were bulldozing along.
But as my second practicum came to a close, I found myself covered in blistering hives, a subtle result of the massive amounts of stress I was under. I slapped on some bandaids, took a couple days to “rest” (aka: catch up on practicum related work) and brushed the incident off.
In those days, my Bible sat on my bedside table, collecting coffee mugs and dust. I offered a prayer now and then. I rarely stopped to listen. I wanted to do things my way, the best way, no exceptions.
I was so hard on myself. Not just in school, but in everything.
My hair was too frizzy and short. My body was constantly under scrutiny. The expectations I had for my friendships and relationship with my new husband zapped my energy. Whatever I did, it was never good enough. But I spent time with people anyway, convinced that the more friends I had, the less of a loser I was.
The December after my practicum, my husband and I flew to Hawaii. That’s when my body broke down again. This time, the repercussions were worse. Between a frantic trip from the toilet to my cup of ginger ale I heard God’s voice, loud, clear and gentle as a dusting of mist.
“Katie, do you know me?” I almost choked on my saltine cracker.
“What? Yeah. Of course.” He was silent for a moment before continuing.
“Then why do you strive?”
“Uh…” I was left speechless, with an attractive half-eaten cracker hanging from my gaping mouth. He continued, His points hitting their mark, “Katie-bug, I don’t measure success by what the world sees. Millions of people might applaud you, but it won’t make you happy. My affirmation is all you need. In the end, you will stand before me, not them.” I nodded my head, stunned at hearing His voice so clearly.
“When you stand before me do you know what I’ll ask you?” I shake my head, no.
“Did you learn to love?” I dropped my head into my hands, my heart wrenched. Tears started streaming down my face. At this point, I didn’t know how to love God, much less people. Truth be told, I hadn’t even learned to love myself.
After that conversation, much prayer and wise counsel I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. With one practicum and four classes left, I chose to not finish my degree. I didn’t apply to law school. I started modeling less and auditioning for fewer acting gigs. I took a low-stress job with the City of Lethbridge and released myself of writing deadlines.
As the Lord gently led me beside still streams, I started my time with Him on my knees, hands lifted, giving my dreams to Him. I sat with God and listened, dove into scripture and sought His Fatherly heart. I received less attention from people but I felt peace, so much peace.
The more time I spent with Him, the deeper in love I fell. Instead of anxious pandering and tears of stress, joy filled my mornings.
I have discovered that the joy of knowing our Abba is nothing compared to human accomplishments. That’s not to say that God is going to keep us from our heart’s desires. Far from it, He tells us in Psalm 37:4 to delight ourselves in Him and He will “give us the desires of our hearts.” The key is: we spend time with Him and become enamored with what He values. When that happens, our will comes in line with His. We get to partner with God, not with the world.
Not only do we get to live a life filled with peace, we can escort others into the multifaceted, backwards thinking delight known as the Kingdom. There’s nothing more valuable than leading God’s beloved ones deeper into His crazy heart.
Nope, not even a law degree.
With much love,
Katie Pezzutto lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her business-dude husband and freak circus budgies. She is currently working on her first novel “The Fisherman’s Daughter” and earning her Masters in Old Testament theology from Briercrest Seminary.
[Closing Editor’s Note: If you have any questions about accepting Jesus into your heart, or just want to talk about Jesus, as a Christian this is my duty! 🙂 I would love to help answer any questions as best I can. My contact info is below.]
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